The key points from Healthcare expenditure, UK Health Accounts: 2017 are as follows:

  • Total current healthcare expenditure in 2017 was £197.3 billion, an increase in current prices of 3.3% on spending in 2016.

  • Total current healthcare expenditure in the UK accounted for 9.6% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017, compared with 9.7% in 2016.

  • In real terms, adjusted for inflation, total healthcare spending increased by 1.1% in 2017, while real healthcare expenditure per person grew by 0.5%; these represented the lowest rates of growth since the start of the series in 2013.

  • Government-financed healthcare expenditure in 2017 accounted for 79% of total healthcare spending, at £155.6 billion.

  • Government-financed healthcare expenditure, in real terms, grew by 0.3% in 2017, while non-government healthcare financing increased by 4.3%, the lowest and highest rates respectively since the series started in 2013.

  • While curative and rehabilitative care made up 65% of government-financed healthcare expenditure, it only represented 29% of non-government expenditure, a similar amount to the share of long-term care (health) and medical goods spending.

  • Spending on long-term care was £48.2 billion in 2017; the increase in real terms of 1.3% on 2016 was the lowest since 2014 and a result of lower growth in long-term care (health).

Professor Derek Bell OBE, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said:

This report indicates that health spending by government in the UK has slowed, growing by just 0.3% in real terms in 2017. This is the lowest since records began in 2013. While we welcome the Government’s promise of £20bn extra for the NHS over the next 5 years, we note that the UK has consistently lagged behind most G7 nations on health spending as a share of GDP.

We are deeply concerned about the NHS’ long-term sustainability, not only as regards funding, but also in terms of ensuring that we can recruit and retain a suitably qualified and able workforce. The Government must continue to work closely with medics and the UK Medical Royal Colleges, such as the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, to ensure that their concerns around pensions, contracts, rota gaps, shift patterns, training and health and wellbeing are addressed.


1.The full report, Healthcare expenditure, UK Health Accounts: 2017, can be found here.

Paul Gillen

Contact: Paul Gillen 0131 247 3658