What's the NHS annual budget? How many doctors and nurses are there? What's the cost of an operation?
Our press and public affairs team, library service and policy experts deal with hundreds of enquiries every year. Below are our answers to some key questions that have been frequently or recently posed to us. If you’ve got a question, get in touch with us.
How much does health and care cost?
In 2018/19 the Department for Health and Social Care spent £130.3 billion. This money is used to fund a wide range of health and care services including public health, GP services, training, vaccinations, ambulance, mental health, community, hospital and some parts of non-NHS health and social care services. £2.9 billion of the Department for Health and Social Care’s budget is spent on administration costs for the department and system as a whole, such as running costs for the department, regulatory costs and business services like the NHS payroll.
Find out more about our position on NHS funding and investment.
What percentage of GDP does the United Kingdom spend on health compared to other countries?
How much of the NHS budget is spent on the workforce?
The NHS is one of the world’s largest employers with around 1.1 million full-time equivalent staff in England. Consequently, the wage bill for the NHS makes up a substantial proportion of the budget. In 2016/17, the total cost of NHS staff was £47.6 billion which amounted to 44.9 per cent of the NHS budget. These statistics don’t include temporary staff, GPs or employees from the Department of Health and Social Care and other national bodies such as NHS England and NHS Improvement.
What’s the cost of going to A&E?
The cost of going to A&E varies depending on the type of A&E an individual attends – from a major, consultant-led department to an urgent care centre or walk-in clinic – and the type of treatment they receive. For someone who attends an urgent care centre and receives the lowest level of investigation and treatment the average cost is around £45. For an individual at a major A&E department who receives more complex investigation and treatment the average cost is around £400.
What’s the cost of an ambulance trip to A&E?
In 2017/18, the average cost of a patient being taken to A&E by ambulance was £252. Ambulance call-outs that didn’t result in a trip to A&E cost an average of £192.
What's the cost of an operation?
The cost of an operation varies depending on a range of factors, such as the complexity of the procedure and how long the patient stays in hospital. In the NHS in England, the national tariff outlines the average cost of procedures. These average costs are then adjusted to take account of local variation, such as higher costs of staffing in London (this is known as the market forces factor).
For example, in 2018/19 a tonsillectomy for a child without complications cost, on average, £1,190, and the average cost of a coronary artery bypass graft was £9,916. The cost of a hip replacement varied from £6,068 to £11,632 depending on the complexity of the operation and the condition of the patient.
What’s the cost of a GP appointment?
A recent study estimated that, in 2017/18, the average 9-minute GP consultation costs £37.40.
- NHS spending is based on the Department of Health and Social Care total departmental expenditure limit 2018/19 and NHS trust accounts. Source: DHSC Annual report and accounts 2018/19; Public Expenditure Statistics; NHS England and NHS Improvement.
- NHS salary data is based on the mean annual basic pay per full time equivalent. Source: NHS Digital.
- Adult social care data is the gross current expenditure on adult social care in 2018/19. Source: NHS Digital.
How many doctors, nurses and managers are there in the NHS in England?
In March 2019 there were 112,031 doctors, 311,380 qualified nursing staff (including midwives and health visitors) and 34,556 managers in the NHS out of a total workforce of 1,093,638 (all figures are full-time equivalent). Between March 2010 and March 2019, the number of doctors and nurses rose while the number of managers fell slightly. However, it’s important to note that the number of managers has been increasing since 2014.
How many clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are there?
Established in 2012 as part of the coalition government’s reforms, CCGs are responsible for planning most primary, community and hospital care services, including urgent and emergency care, in their local area. The number of CCGs is constantly changing because of mergers but as of April 2019, there were 191 CCGs in England.
How many NHS hospitals are there in England?
Working out the number of hospitals in England is challenging. All NHS hospitals are managed by acute, mental health, specialist or community trusts and as of October 2019 there were 223 trusts. However, the number of NHS trusts does not correlate to the number of hospitals as many trusts run more than one hospital, for example, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust runs nine hospitals.
How many available beds are there in the NHS? Is the number of beds decreasing or increasing?
There were 142,745 consultant-led beds available in the NHS, as of Q4 2018/19. The total number will be higher as this doesn’t include critical care beds or those where the patient is under the care of a nurse rather than a consultant.
The graph below shows the number of available consultant-led beds in England has halved over the past 30 years. Proportionally, the largest falls have been in learning disability, mental illness and long-term beds for older people. Medical advances that mean patients don’t have to stay in hospital for as long and a shift in policy towards providing treatment and care outside hospital have contributed towards the reduction.
Find out more about trends in hospital beds in our explainer.
What has been the trend in demand for health care?
Demand for health care has been rising across all services and sectors over the past decade. There were 1.6 million more attendances at major (type 1) A&E departments in 2018/19 than there were in 2011/12, bringing the total to 15.7 million.
Elective (or planned) treatment generally refers to non-urgent treatments or procedures that are scheduled in advance. Within elective care, the number of referrals to outpatient services increased from 4.1 million in Q1 2008/09 to 5.9 million in Q1 2019/20. (This includes referrals made from GPs but also other sources such as A&E departments or consultants in other specialties). This represents an overall increase of 42 per cent – an average increase of 3.2 per cent a year.
This growth in demand is also reflected in general practice. Routine reporting on the number of GP appointments has only been available since March 2018, and shows there are more than 300 million GP appointments a year. While we can’t show equivalent trends as we have for A&E or elective care, a research study using a sample of GP data estimated that the total number of face-to-face and telephone consultations increased 15.4 per cent between 2010/11 and 2014/15.