UK spending on healthcare rose a FIFTH last year to £269BILLION

The UK spent an eye-watering £269BILLION on healthcare last year up by a FIFTH in the biggest surge on record as Covid wreaked havoc

  • UK spending on healthcare rose by a fifth to £269billion last year, ONS said
  • The increase was the biggest rise since comparable records began in 1997  
  • It was equivalent to more than an eighth of GDP as pandemic wreaked havoc 

The UK spent an eye-watering £269billion on healthcare last year – up by a fifth as coronavirus wreaked havoc.

The annual increase in expenditure by government and households was the biggest since comparable figures started being compiled in 1997.

Spending was equivalent to 12.8 per cent of total GDP, up from 10.2 per cent in 2019, driven largely by ministers’ desperate efforts to contain the disease and source vaccines.  

The scale of the bill was revealed in provisional figures released by the Office for National Statistics today. 

Deputy national statistician Jonathan Athow said: ‘The unprecedented effects of the pandemic have seen spending on health rise at a rate not seen in modern times.’

The ONS estimated that the UK spent an eye-watering £269billion on healthcare last year – up by a fifth as coronavirus wreaked havoc

Spending was equivalent to 12.8 per cent of total GDP, up from 10.2 per cent in 2019, driven largely by ministers’ desperate efforts to contain the disease and source vaccines

Total current healthcare expenditure last year was estimated at £269billion, a cash increase of £53.8billion.

In percentage terms that was almost twice as large as any previous rise since 1997.

The growth was primarily due to a 25 per cent cash-terms spike in government healthcare expenditure.

Big ticket items included testing and tracing activities, and bolstering the NHS and other existing services, for example through more PPE and ventilators.

But there were dramatic falls in elective treatments and A&E visits, providing those services is likely have become more costly. 

Non-government spending was approximately £49billion, an increase of 2 per cent in cash terms on 2019.

That showed a more mixed picture, with household spending on medical services falling but extra going on medical goods. 

The National Audit Office (NAO) said last month that the cost of coronavirus to the government had risen by more than £100 billion to £372billion since its last report in January this year. 

Covering a full year of predicted costs since the pandemic began, the watchdog said £172 billion has already been spent.

It includes £26billion worth of guaranteed loans that are expected to be written off.

Support for businesses such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme had the highest estimated cost, at £151 billion.

That was followed by help for the health and social care sector at £97billion.

Programmes such as the Self Employment Support Scheme, under help for individuals, came to £55billion.

And there was an additional £65billion estimated to be spent on support for other public services and emergency responses.

There were dramatic falls in elective treatments and A&E visits in 2020, but providing those services is likely have become more costly

Non-government spending showed a more mixed picture, with household laying out less on medical services but extra on medical goods

The NAO Covid-19 cost tracker was updated last month suggesting the government is on track to spend £372billion  

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