The half-a-trillion NHS

Published: 8th Feb 2017

In brief


The government will spend half a trillion pounds on the NHS this parliament.


Correct, but adding up five years’ worth of spending into one big figure isn’t particularly meaningful.

“Half a trillion pounds…  we’ll be spending on the NHS this parliament.

Theresa May, 8 February 2017

Half a trillion—or £500 billion— is underselling it a little. Spending on the NHS in England is expected to be almost £550 billion in today’s money from 2015/16 to 2019/20.

That’s if you add up planned spending in each of those five years. While this generates an impressively big number, it’s not necessarily that meaningful. If talking about your salary, would you say “I get paid £20,000 a year” or “I’ll be paid £100,000 over a five-year contract”?

Apart from anything else, the amount of money spent doesn’t say anything about whether it’s going to the right places or keeping up with the demand on the health service.

Health experts from the Nuffield Trust, Health Foundation and King’s Fund say current spending plans aren’t enough to maintain standards of care, meet rising patient demand and deliver new services such as the so-called “seven-day NHS”.

We’ve broken down the NHS spending figures here.

This factcheck is part of a roundup of Prime Minister's Questions. Read the roundup.


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