Most of the National Health Service (NHS) is free to use for UK residents. The amount of money the NHS gets is decided differently across the UK as the responsibility of health and care was given to the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government, and the Northern Ireland Assembly.
About 99% of the Department of Health’s budget comes from taxes. The rest of the money comes from charges for things like prescriptions for medicine, dentists, and opticians services.
The government plans to spend around £122 billion on health in England in 2017/18, or roughly £2,200 per person. Around £108 billion will be spent on the day to day running of the NHS.
The rest is spent by the Department of Health on things like public health initiatives (which aim to improve people’s health so they don’t need to use the NHS as often), education, training, and infrastructure (such as IT and building new hospitals).
Spending is expected to rise to £123 billion in 2020/21, of which £111 billion will be for the day to day running of the NHS.
The NHS in Scotland receives almost all of its money from the Scottish Government. Unlike in England, Scottish residents don't have to pay for prescriptions for medication. It is also free to see a dentist or optician in Scotland, but there are some charges for certain treatments.
The NHS in Wales receives almost all of its money from the Welsh Government. Welsh residents don't pay for prescriptions for medication, but there are charges for visiting the dentist or the optician.
In Northern Ireland the NHS is referred to as the Health and Social Care Service (HSC) and includes hospitals, GP services, and community health and social services.
The HSC receives its money from the Northern Ireland Executive. Northern Ireland residents don't have to pay for prescriptions for medication, but there are charges for visiting the dentist or the optician.
Health spending in Northern Ireland in 2016/17 was £5 billion, or roughly £2,700 per person.
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