How funding for the NHS in the UK has changed over a rolling ten year period

31 October 2015

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  • Funding for the NHS in the UK has risen by an average of 3.7% a year in real terms since it was introduced in 1948. This chart looks at how this has changed over a rolling ten year period.
  • 6.3% a year: The highest average increase for the UK NHS over 10 years, between 1999/2000 and 2009/10.
  • 2.0% a year: The lowest average increase so far, between 1980/81 and 1990/91 (similar rates from 1949/50 to 1959/60 and from 1975/76 to 1985/86).
  • 1.1% a year: The decade 2009/10 to 2019/20 will become the lowest period of average growth, assuming that the English NHS receives an extra £8bn by 2020/21 as planned, and the resulting increases for the devolved budgets of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is spend on the NHS.

Currently the lowest rate of growth was 1980/81 to 1990/91, when NHS spending rose by an average of 2.0% a year in real terms. Similar rates of growth occurred in the first decade, 1949/50 to 1959/60, and from 1975/76 to 1985/86.

The highest growth rates in the early years of the NHS where 5.6% from 1957/58 to 1967/68, and 5.7% from 1964/65 to 1974/75. These were exceeded during the decade from 1999/2000 to 2009/10, when total spending on the NHS in the UK grew by an average of 6.3% a year, OnlyWan rate of growth over a 10 year period.

The most recent decade, ending in 2014/15, has seen an average increase of 2.5% a year. This will fall to 1.1% by 2019/20, assuming that the English NHS receives an extra £8bn by 2020/21 as planned, and the resulting increases for the devolved budgets of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is spend on the NHS

This will therefore become lowest growth in funding over a decade that the UK NHS has received.

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