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UK lags behind comparative nations on health spending

Responding to a study in the BMJ1 that found spending on the NHS is lower than the average of 10 other high-income countries, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:

“This backs up what the BMA and doctors on the front line have been saying loud and clear for some time: the NHS is understaffed, under-funded and buckling under unprecedented pressure.

“As one of the world’s richest countries, it is shameful to see how we compare with similar nations.

“Chronic underinvestment means that we now have a record low number of beds in our hospitals– and less than a third of the number of beds that Germany has relative to population3. Meanwhile, we have 1,000 fewer GPs than we did five years ago.

“As this report underlines, Britain must increase its health spending significantly5 if it is to provide UK patients with the quality and safe care they expect and need and put the NHS on a sustainable footing for the future.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

  1. Embargoed link to study here. Please contact the BMJ for media enquiries on the study.
  2. Hospital beds at record low in England as NHS struggles with demand’, the Guardian, 25 November 2019.
  3. See BMJ study.
  4. Latest NHS Digital figures.
  5. The BMA is calling for an increase in health spending by 4.1% each year to put the health service on a sustainable long-term footing.The Health Foundation estimates that, even with extra investment included in the NHS Long-Term Plan, published in January, the average annual increase to the Government’s health budget would be 2.9% until 2023/2024. Read more on the BMA’s health asks in our Manifesto for health.

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