The NHS budget and how it has changed

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The NHS budget over time

Source: Department of Health annual report and accounts 2015-16. Real terms figures are in 2016/17 prices and adjust cash spending for inflation as measured by the HMT GDP deflators at market prices, and money GDP September 2016 .

The budget for the NHS in England for 2016/17 is £120 billion.

In the 2015 spending review the government announced that funding for the Department of Health would increase to £133 billion by 2020/21, a real increase of approximately £4.5bn once inflation is taken into account.*

Though NHS funding is growing, it is slowing considerably compared to historical trends. The Department of Health budget will grow by only 1.2% in real terms between 2009/10 and 2020/21. This is far below the long-term average annual increases in health spending since 1949/50 of 3.7% (in real terms).

Looking forward, between 2017/18 and 2019/20 the Department of Health budget will increase by less than 0.5% each year in real terms. This will place increasing pressure on the NHS, as demands for services are still projected to increase.


*This is significantly less than the funding the government claims it has given to the NHS over this period, mainly because ministers have chosen to highlight the funding provided to NHS England only rather than the Department of Health’s total budget.

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