Health spending in UK lags behind European neighbours, research shows

Per capita, health spending in the UK is around a third less than Germany and Norway.

Health spending in UK lags behind European neighbours, research from SNP shows iStock

The UK’s health spending lags behind other countries in north-west Europe, research commissioned by the SNP has found.

Per capita, health spending is around a third less than Germany and Norway – at £5,884 compared to £9,104 and £8,817 respectively.

The House of Commons Library analysis is based on data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Last year, UK Government health spending was also below the per capita levels of France, the Netherlands, Austria, Ireland and Sweden.

The SNP also highlighted a recent report from The King’s Fund which said the UK’s health service is under performing in tackling treatable conditions.

SNP health spokesman Martyn Day said: “Having failed the NHS so badly, it’s incumbent on Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer to ditch their plans for more NHS privatisation and cuts and instead move quickly to boost NHS spending and mitigate the damage of Brexit.

“Despite plastering lies on the side of a Brexit bus, the Tories have chronically underfunded the NHS, and the UK lags behind our European neighbours on health funding and outcomes.

“Worse still, this Westminster-made health crisis isn’t new. The UK Government spent significantly less than average on health, under the Tories and Labour Party, in every year of the 21st century.

“This under-funding has negatively impacted all four health services in the UK.

“The SNP is calling for the Tories and pro-Brexit Labour Party to raise UK Government health spending to the much higher levels seen among our neighbours in north Europe.

“Even raising spending to just the average level across north Europe would deliver billions of pounds extra for the Scottish Government to spend on boosting Scotland’s NHS.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The Government has and will continue to prioritise investment into the NHS.

“The NHS has been provided with resource funding of £168.4bn for 2023-24.

“This includes more than £6bn additional funding to support the NHS in managing the ongoing impact of the pandemic and cut waiting lists – a key priority for this Government.

“Our forthcoming Major Conditions Strategy will also outline how best to prevent, diagnose and manage six key conditions, such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases, that drive ill health and early death in England.”

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