NHS spending: squeezed as never before – by John Appleby

Next month the government will set out its plans for public service spending through to 2020. The indications are that the plans will be a rerun of the 2010 Spending Review. The overall aim – as in 2010 – will be to eliminate the public spending deficit and reduce government debt as a proportion of GDP. Once again, large (25–40 per cent) real cuts are expected for most departments. And, as in 2010, NHS spending will be protected.

But the protection is relative and the decade since the 2010 Spending Review will be the toughest financially since the inception of the NHS.

Looking at the NHS across the whole of the United Kingdom allows analysis of spending as a share of national wealth as measured by GDP. It also makes it easier to make comparisons with other countries’ spending.

Over the past parliament the annual average real increase in UK NHS spending was 0.84 per cent (Figure 1). This is the smallest increase in spending for any political party’s period in office since the second world war and amounts to around a quarter of the long-run average increase in funding since 1951.

Full blog at The King’s Fund 20 October 2015