How much money does the NHS need and how much is it actually getting?

Published: 12th Jan 2018

In brief

Claim

The government is giving the NHS 1%. Under Labour it was 4% every year.

Conclusion

Spending on the NHS in England has increased in real terms by an average of around 1% a year since 2010. Since the NHS was established spending increases have averaged 4% per year.

 

The NHS needs 4 billion a year, but it’s getting 1.6 billion and that figures is set to decrease.

 

Experts have previously said that NHS England needed £4 billion in 2018/19. In the Autumn budget 2017 the government announced that it will receive £1.6 billion, or £1.9 billion if capital spending is included.

 

The government has put 12 billion more into the NHS than in 2010 under Labour. The government has also promised another 6 billion for the NHS.

 

Spending on NHS England increased by £12.7 billion between 2009/10 and 2017/18, taking inflation into account. The government has said it will spend an additional £6.3 billion up to 2022/23, though that’s in cash terms.

Claim 1 of 3

We’ve put more money than ever [into the NHS], 12 billion more than in 2010 when the last government were in charge. We promised another 6 billion.

Dominic Raab MP, 11 January 2018

“It needs, urgently, about 4 billion a year. It’s getting 1.6 and that’s set to go down.”

Gina Miller, 11 January 2018

“I mean, they’re giving the NHS just 1% every year. Under Labour it was 4% every year. It needs more money, not less money.”

Dawn Butler MP, 11 January 2018

It’s correct that spending on the NHS in England has increased by just over £12 billion since 2010, in fact almost £13 billion, and that a further £6 billion was promised at the end of last year.

Part of this £6 billion includes £1.6 billion in 2018/19. This has been welcomed by health experts, but will provide only around half of the £4 billion they have said is needed next year.

Since 2010 the NHS England budget has also increased by around 1% a year on average. Historically, this has been around 4% per year.

Spending on the NHS this coming year

In the Autumn budget last year the government announced that the NHS in England would receive an additional £1.6 billion in 2018/19 (in addition to spending already planned). Factoring in money also announced for more long-term investment in the infrastructure of the NHS this increases to £1.9 billion.

Experts at the King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation think tanks previously estimated that the NHS actually needed a spending increase of around £4 billion that year, based on how spending has increased previously in the NHS and how much its costs are considered likely to increase by.

Following the Autumn budget the King’s Fund said that “While providing some welcome relief for the NHS, the extra funding pledged falls well short of the amount that we estimate is required… the NHS next year will not be able to maintain standards of care and meet rising demand for services.” It also estimates that there will be a gap in the budget of around £20 billion by 2022/23.

Spending since 2010

In 2009/10 health spending in England by the outgoing Labour government was £112 billion (accounting for inflation since then). In 2017/18 the Conservative government plan to spend £124.7 billion. That’s a difference of around £12.7 billion, according to figures from the King’s Fund.

Spending is set to increase by a further £3.3 billion up to 2020/21 when it will reach £128 billion on current plans (again accounting for inflation).

Mr Raab told us that he was referring to the government’s commitment at the Autumn budget to spend an additional £6.3 billion on the NHS in England up to 2022/23. These figures don’t account for inflation and we don’t know what will have happened to NHS spending overall by then.

The total budget for the Department of Health is set to increase by around 1.2% between 2009/10, the last year of the Labour government, and 2020/21. That’s according to the King’s Fund. Since the NHS was established the average increase in spending every year has been around 4%, though the King’s Fund don’t provide specific figures for the Labour years in this research.

When we asked them for more information about Ms Butler’s claim the Labour party pointed us towards the same King’s Fund analysis and separate figures on health spending across the whole of the UK. These show that between 1998/99 and 2010/11 the average spending increase was 6.4% per year and since 2010/11 the increase has averaged 1.4% each year.

Health is a devolved area of spending so the UK government is only directly responsible for exactly how money is spent on this in England. We’re planning on writing more about this soon.

This factcheck is part of a roundup of BBC Question Time. Read the roundup.


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