Key statistics on the NHS

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We have compiled some key statistics on the NHS. This data was last updated in June 2017. The figures apply to England, unless otherwise stated.

NHS funding

  • NHS net expenditure (resource plus capital, minus depreciation) has increased from £75.822 billion in 2005/06 to £117.229 billion in 2015/16. Planned expenditure for 2016/17 is £120.611bn and £123.709bn for 2017/18.
  • In real terms the budget is expected to increase from £117.229bn in 2015/16 to £120.151bn by 2019/20.  
  • Health expenditure (medical services, health research, central and other health services) per capita in England has risen from £1,868 in 2010/11 to £2,057 in 2014/15.
  • The NHS net deficit for the 2015/16 financial year was £1.851 billion (£599m underspend by commissioners and a £2.45bn deficit for trusts and foundation trusts).  
  • The most recently published national surveys of investment for mental health found there had been real terms reductions of 1 per cent for working age adults and 3.1 per cent for older people in 2011/12.

Providers and commissioners of NHS services  

 There are currently in England:

  • 209 clinical commissioning groups (including 199 authorised without conditions)
  • 135 acute non-specialist trusts (including 84 foundation trusts)
  • 17 acute specialist trusts (including 16 foundation trusts)
  • 54 mental health trusts (including 42 foundation trusts) 
  • 35 community providers (11 NHS trusts, 6 foundation trusts, 17 social enterprises and 1 limited company)
  • 10 ambulance trusts (including 5 foundation trusts)
  • 7,527 GP practices
  • 853 for-profit and not-for-profit independent sector organisations, providing care to NHS patients from 7,331 locations

NHS staff

  • In December 2016, across Hospital and Community Healthcare Services (HCHS), the NHS employed (full-time equivalent): 106,021 doctors; 285,173 qualified nursing staff and health visitors; 21,604 midwives; 131,791 qualified scientific, therapeutic and technical staff; 19,392 qualified ambulance staff; 20,858 managers; and 9,866 senior managers.
  • There were 10,393 additional HCHS doctors (FTE) employed in the NHS in December 2016 compared to December 2009 (10.87 per cent). In the past year the number has increased by 1.51 per cent.
  • There were 4,945 more NHS nurses and health visitors (FTE) across HCHS in December 2016 compared to seven years earlier (1.76 per cent). In the past year the number has increased by 0.33 per cent. 
  • There were 2,148 more qualified ambulance staff in December 2016 compared to seven years earlier (12.46 per cent). In the past year the number has increased by 7.68 per cent.
  • There were 351 fewer psychiatrists across all grades (FTE) in December 2016 than December 2009 (3.89 per cent decrease). Over the same period there has been a decline in the number of mental health nurses of 4,893 (12.02 per cent)
  • There were 4,404 more qualified allied health professionals (FTE) in December 2016 compared to December 2009 (7.41 per cent). However the number of qualified healthcare scientists has declined over the same period, with the FTE number in December 2016 2,497 below that of December 2009 (9.59 per cent).
  • 54.28 per cent of NHS employees across HCHS are professionally qualified clinical staff, as of December 2016. A further 29.70 per cent provide support to clinical staff in roles such as nursing assistant practitioners, nursing assistant/auxiliaries and healthcare assistants.
  • Between December 2009 and December 2016 the number of professionally qualified clinical staff across HCHS has risen by 5.80 per cent.
  • In September 2016, across general practice, there were (full-time equivalent): 33,804 GPs (excluding locums); 15,827 nurses in GP practices; 10,009 GP direct patient care staff; and 65,334 admin/non-clinical staff. 
  • There were 96 fewer GPs and 429 more practice nurses (both FTE) in GP practices in September 2016 than a year earlier. Data from before 2015 is not directly comparable.
  • An NHS Partners Network survey shows that more than 69,000 individuals are involved in providing front-line services to NHS patients among their membership. Approximately two-thirds are clinicians.
  • Medical school intake rose from 3,749 in 1997/98 to 6,262 in 2012/13 - a rise of 67.0 per cent. 7,112 graduates were accepted on to foundation programmes across the UK in 2016. 


  • Managers and senior managers accounted for 2.96 per cent of the 1.039 million FTE staff employed by HCHS across the NHS in December 2016.
  • The number of managers and senior managers has increased in the past three years, having declined in each of the previous four years. However the number in December 2016 (30,724) remains below 19.70 per cent below that of December 2009 (38,260)
  • In 2008/09 the management costs of the NHS had fallen from 5.0 per cent in 1997/98 to 3.0 per cent.

International comparisons

  • In comparison with the healthcare systems of ten other countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and USA) the NHS was found to be the most impressive overall by the Commonwealth Fund in 2014.  
  • The NHS was rated as the best system in terms of efficiency, effective care, safe care, coordinated care, patient-centred care and cost-related problems. It was also ranked second for equity.
  • However in the category of healthy lives (10th), the NHS fared less well.
  • Current health expenditure in the UK was 9.78 per cent of GDP in 2015. This compares to 16.91 per cent in the USA, 11.08 per cent in Germany, 11.01 per cent in France, 10.76 per cent in the Netherlands, 10.59 per cent in Denmark, 10.16 per cent in Canada, 9.05 per cent in Italy and 9.00 per cent in Spain.
  • Current expenditure per capita (using the purchasing power parity) for the UK was $4,015 in 2015. This can be compared to $9,451 in the USA, $5,343 in the Netherlands, $5,267 in Germany, $4,943 in Denmark, $4,614 in Canada, $4,415 in France, $3,272 in Italy and $3,153 in Spain.  
  • The UK had 2.8 physicians per 1,000 people in 2015, compared to 4.1 in Germany (2014), 3.9 in Italy (2014), 3.8 in Spain (2014), 3.5 in Australia (2014), 3.4 in France, 3.0 in New Zealand and 2.6 in Canada (2014).
  • The UK had 2.7 hospital beds per 1,000 people in 2014, compared to 8.2 in Germany, 6.2 in France, 3.0 in Spain, 2.8 in New Zealand and 2.7 in Denmark.
  • Average length of stay for all causes in the UK was 6.9 days in 2014. This compares to 16.9 in Japan, 9.0 in Germany, 7.8 in Italy, 7.6 in New Zealand (2013), 6.6 in Spain and 5.6 in France.      

Patient experience and public opinion

  • In the 2016 Care Quality Commission inpatient satisfaction survey 86 per cent of almost 72,000 respondents rated their overall experience as 7 or more out of 10.
  • 84 per cent felt that they were always treated with dignity and respect while using inpatient services.
  • 83 per cent felt the specialist had 'definitely' been provided with enough information about their condition by the person that referred them.
  • 98 per cent felt their hospital room or ward was 'very' or 'fairly' clean.
  • 83 per cent and 80 per cent 'always' had confidence and trust in the doctors and nurses treating them respectively.
  • 65 per cent of respondents to the CQC's community mental health services survey for 2016 rated their experience between 7 and 10 out of 10.
  • 70 per cent 'definitely' felt listened to carefully and 56 per cent 'definitely' felt as involved as they wanted to be in agreeing the care they received. Both of these percentages were unchanged on the previous year's community mental health survey.
  • In March 2017, 95.62 per cent of 240,539 inpatients treated by NHS trusts and foundation trusts would recommend their provider to friends or family (25.4 per cent response rate). For 20,197 inpatients treated by independent sector organisations, the proportion was 98.89 per cent (38.2 per cent response rate).
  • In March 2017, 88.63 per cent of 21,686 patients that used mental health services would recommend their provider to friends or family. In the same month, 95.74 per cent of 121,159 patients using community services would recommend their provider in the same way.
  • Aggregated GP Patient Survey results from July-September 2015 and January-March 2016 found that 85.2 per cent of respondents rated their overall experience at the GP surgery as 'very good' or 'fairly good.'
  • 82.7 per cent felt their GP was good at treating them with care and concern. 73.4 per cent rated their overall experience at making an appointment as good.
  • 67.4 per cent stated their overall experience of out-of-hours GP services was good.
  • In the 2016 British Social Attitudes survey, 63 per cent of respondents were ‘very’ or ‘quite satisfied’ with the NHS, whereas 22 per cent were ‘very’ or ‘quite dissatisfied. This compares to 60 and 23 per cent respectively in 2015 and all-time peaks of 70 (2010) and 50 per cent (1997) respectively.

NHS activity

  • The NHS deals with over 1 million patients every 36 hours.
  • In 2015/16 there were 40 per cent more operations ('procedures and interventions' as defined by Hospital Episode Statistics, excluding diagnostic testing) completed by the NHS compared to 2005/06, with an increase from 7.215m to 10.119m.
  • There were 16.252m total hospital admissions in 2015/16, 28 per cent more than a decade earlier (12.679m).
  • The total annual attendances at Accident & Emergency departments was 23.372m in 2016/17, 23.5 per cent higher than a decade earlier (18.922m).
  • The proportion of patients seen within 4 hours at A&E departments in 2016/17 was 83.7 per cent in major (type 1 units) and 89.1 per cent overall.
  • The total number of outpatient attendances in 2015/16 was 89.436m, an increase of 4.4 per cent on the previous year (85.632m).
  • In the 2016 calendar year, 507,784 NHS patients were admitted to independent providers for their elective inpatient care. There were 891,717 referrals made by GPs to independent providers for outpatient care during the same period.
  • There were 1.826m people in contact with specialist mental health services in 2015/16. 103,027 (5.6 per cent) spent time in hospital.
  • There were 21.034m outpatient and community contacts arranged for mental health service users in 2014/15. Between April and November 2015 there were a further 13.685m contacts arranged for service users.
  • 63,622 people were detained under the Mental Health Act in 2016/17, 8.9 per cent higher than 2015/16.
  • There were 2.643m category A calls (Red 1 and Red 2) that resulted in an ambulance arriving at the scene in 2016/17. 
  • 68.7 per cent of Red 1 ambulance calls were responded to within eight minutes in 2016/17.
  • At the end of March 2017, there were 3.735 million patients on the waiting list for treatment. 362,687 (9.7 per cent) had been waiting for longer than 18 weeks, compared to 298,753 (8.5 per cent) at the same point in 2016.
  • The number of patients waiting longer than a year for treatment declined from 20,097 in September 2011 to 214 in November 2013, before increasing again. In March 2017 the number stood at 1,529. Over the past three years, the number waiting in excess of 26 weeks has increased from 55,105 in March 2014 to 126,188 in March 2017.
  • 90.4 per cent of people with non-admitted pathways were treated or discharged within 18 weeks of referral in March 2017, compared to 92.7 per cent a year earlier.
  • In March 2017, 73.7 per cent of service users who had completed their care pathway were seen within two weeks of referral under the new Early Intervention in Psychosis access standard.
  • At the end of March 2017, 934,010 patients were on the waiting list for a diagnostic test. Of these, 1.1 per cent had been waiting in excess of six weeks.

Health and population

  • Life expectancy for English men in 2013-15: 79.4 years.
  • Life expectancy for English women in 2013-15: 83.1 years
  • The UK population is projected to increase from an estimated 64.6 million in mid-2014 to 69.0 million by 2024 and 72.7 million by 2034.
  • The UK population is expected to continue ageing, with the average age rising from 40.0 in 2014 to 42.9 by 2039.
  • The number of people aged 60 and over is projected to increase from 14.9m in 2014 to 21.9m by 2039. As part of this growth, the number of over-85s is estimated to more than double from 1.5 million in 2014 to 3.6 million by 2039.
  • The number of people of State Pension Age (SPA) in the UK exceeded the number of children for the first time in 2007. By 2014 the disparity had declined to 0.2 million. The ONS currently projects that this situation will have reversed by 2019, with 0.5 million more children than those at SPA, but will then revert back by 2029 with 0.5 million more pensioners than children.
  • There are an estimated 3.0 million people with diabetes in England (2016).
  • In England the proportion of men classified as obese increased from 13.2 per cent in 1993 to 24.3 per cent in 2014 (peak of 26.2 in 2010), and from 16.4 per cent to 26.8 per cent for women over the same timescale (latter is the peak for the period covered).
  • The proportion of boys aged 2-10 classified as obese has increased from 10 per cent in 1995 to 16.8 per cent in 2014 and for boys aged 11-15 the proportion has risen from 14 to 21.7 per cent (peak of 24 in 2004 and 2011) over the same period.
  • The proportion of girls aged 2-10 classified as obese has increased from 11 per cent in 1995 to 14.1 per cent in 2014 (peak of 17 in 2007) and for girls aged 11-15 the proportion has risen from 16 to 18.5 per cent (peak of 27 in 2004) over the same period.

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