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NHS spending amongst worse in the EU – and it’s only getting worse

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016 | News

Britain’s spending on healthcare is now amongst the bottom 3 of the EU’s original members, meaning we’re going to be missing out on up to £16bn a year in healthcare funding.

The percent of GDP spent on healthcare for the original 15 members as a whole is 10.1% - with the Netherlands topping the charts at over 11% spent. In comparison, Britain’s expenditure is a lowly 8.5%.

Research conducted by the King’s Fund, an independent charity working to improve healthcare in England, found that Britain needs to increase its healthcare investment significantly by 2020/2021 in order to stop the gap from growing further.  However, this isn’t something currently on the government’s agenda. The UK’s GDP is expected to grow by 15.2% by 2021/2020, whereas spending on healthcare is only expected to increase by 5.2%.

In real terms, this means that the NHS’s budget will increase from £135 billion in 2014/15 to £142 billion in 2020/21. A relatively modest increase of £7bn that, if healthcare expenditure grew at the same rate as the economy, should be an increase of £23bn – a £16bn difference and a drop in GDP spend to 6.6% (from 8.5%).

The UK is also falling behind in comparison to the 20 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. Ignoring the United States (which contorts figures due to its relatively high levels of healthcare spend), the OECD spends 9.1% on its healthcare – or £21bn more than the UK by 2020/2021.

This is disappointing news for one of the EU’s wealthiest countries, which raises concerns about the sustainability of healthcare in the UK. With national debt currently standing at £1.56 trillion and still increasing, in reality the government’s deficit cuts are unlikely to be plugging the growing healthcare expenditure gap anytime soon.

The resulting implications are numerous. Nurse and healthcare staff shortages are on the up, and under investment is only likely to exacerbate this; meaning longer waiting times for patients and increasing downward pressure on pay and conditions.

Kare Plus Director of Operations, Dominic Rothwell, said: “Under investment in the NHS will impact the workforce. Nurse shortages, long hours and short breaks are in the news almost daily - and nurses aren’t going to suffer this forever.

“We are seeing many NHS staff turn to us for work which is more suitable to their lifestyles, pays better and isn’t as long hours. Until the NHS’s funding improves, it is likely we will experience more and more nurses turning to us for similar reasons.”

If you’re an NHS worker who is feeling the impact of under investment, why not get in touch with your local branch or leave a comment below to see how Kare Plus could help you change your work/life balance.


*All healthcare expenditure figures based on 2013 figures (last time figures were released), unless otherwise stated.


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