How does UK healthcare spending compare with other countries?

Office for National Statistics | September 2019| How does UK healthcare spending compare with other countries?

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has issued its latest release of UK healthcare spending relative to comparable countries. It forms an analysis of UK healthcare spending relative to comparable countries, using data produced to the international definitions of the System of Health Accounts (SHA 2011).
business-1676138_640.jpgKey points 

  • In 2017, the UK spent £2,989 per person on healthcare, which was around the median for members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development: OECD (£2,913 per person).
  • Of the G7 group of large, developed economies, UK healthcare spending per person was the second-lowest, with the highest spenders being France (£3,737), Germany (£4,432) and the United States (£7,736).
  • As a percentage of GDP, UK healthcare spending fell from 9.8% in 2013 to 9.6% in 2017, while healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP rose for four of the remaining six G7 countries.
  • The UK’s publicly funded NHS-based health system contributes to the UK having one of the highest shares of publicly funded healthcare (79%) in the OECD.
  • In 2017, the UK spent the equivalent of £560 per person on health-related long-term care, which was less than most other northern or western European countries, but a similar amount to France (£569) and Canada (£556).

The article is available to download from the ONS


Health in the workplace: patterns of sickness absence, employer support and employment retention

Department for Work and Pensions & Department of Health and Social Care |  July 2019| Health in the workplace: patterns of sickness absence, employer support and employment retention

A new publication: Health in the workplace: patterns of sickness absence, employer support and employment retention contributes to the comprehensive evidence base supporting the work and health consultation “Health is everyone’s business: proposals to reduce ill-health related job loss”.


This publication provides detailed analysis of:

  • the characteristics of people experiencing long-term sickness absence (LTSA) (sickness absence lasting more than 4 weeks)
  • the difference in employment retention rates experienced by disabled and non-disabled people and how these vary by the employer an individual works for and the type of work they do
  • how the provision of sick pay and occupational health vary according to the employer an individual works for and the type of job they do

Health in the workplace: patterns of sickness absence, employer support and employment retention

WHO updates global guidance on medicines and diagnostic tests to address health challenges, prioritize highly effective therapeutics, and improve affordable access

World Health Organization | July 2019 | WHO updates global guidance on medicines and diagnostic tests to address health challenges, prioritize highly effective therapeutics, and improve affordable access

The WHO has published its Essential Medicines List and List of Essential Diagnostics-core guidance documents that help countries prioritize critical health products that should be widely available and affordable throughout health systems.


The two lists focus on cancer and other global health challenges, with an emphasis on effective solutions, smart prioritization, and optimal access for patients.

WHO Essential Medicines List (2019)




Health Services Research Toolkit

The National Institute for Health Research has launched a new Health Services Research Toolkit.  The toolkit brings together ideas, guidance and support to help researchers deliver the high quality health services research that the NHS and health and social care settings needs.

The following areas are covered:

Child sexual exploitation: prevention and intervention

This document provides a summary of the latest international research about effective interventions to prevent child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation | Public Health England

Public Health England has updated their Literature search to identify the latest international research about effective interventions to prevent child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation.

This report summarises the emerging evidence from the UK on the issue of child sexual exploitation. It provides practice examples to support local public health leaders to establish a public health framework for prevention and intervention.

Full document: Child sexual exploitation: how public health can support prevention and intervention

Physical activity helps children to deal with life’s challenges

Public Health England, Disney UK and Sport England launch new Change4Life campaign to inspire children to get more active | via Public Health England


Evidence shows that children and young people who are more active have more confidence, higher self-esteem, less anxiety and stress and better social skills – attributes that can help them deal with the challenges they face in daily life. Positive attitudes towards physical activity have also been associated with children being happier.

The UK Chief Medical Officers recommend that children do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day, yet just 20% of boys and even fewer girls (14%), are meeting this target, despite 95% of children saying that they enjoy being active.

A new campaign is encouraging children to play 10 Minute Shake Up games inspired by favourite characters.  The campaign has also launched a new online quiz to help children, with their parents, find activities and sports to try.

For more information, see 10 Minute Shake Up games

Childhood Vulnerability In England

Major study from Children’s Commissioner reveals over two million children in England are growing up in families where there are serious risks.

This report examines the latest scale of, and trends over time in, rates of childhood vulnerability. It estimates the total number of children in England currently receiving statutory support or intervention (those who are ‘in the system’), to be 723,000 children.


The report estimates that 2.3 million children are living with risk because of a vulnerable family background. Within this group, it estimates that more than a third – 829,000 children – are ‘invisible’ (in the sense of not being known to services) and therefore not getting any support. Another 761,000 children – around a third – are known to services, but their level of support is unclear. Adding these two groups together, means that there are 1.6 million children from a vulnerable family background for whom the support is either patchy or non-existent.

Key Statistics:

  • 2.3m children growing up with a vulnerable family background
  • 1.6m children in families with complex needs for which there is no national established, recognised form of support
  • 829,000 children are ‘invisible’ to services
  • 25% of the amount councils spend on children now goes on the 1.1% of children who need acute and specialist services

Full detail: Childhood vulnerability in England 2019

Social Care Funding

Social Care Funding: Time To End A National Scandal | Economic Affairs Committee

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This report finds that publicly funded social care support is shrinking, as diminishing budgets have forced local authorities to limit the numbers of people who receive public funding. Funding is £700 million lower than 2010/11 in real terms, despite continuing increases in the numbers of people who need care.

The report recommends that the Government immediately spends £8 billion to restore social care to acceptable standards and then introduces free personal care over a period of five years.

Key conclusions and recommendations

  • The Government must increase funding by £8 billion to restore levels of quality and access to those observed in 2009/10. This should be its top priority.
  • The Government should introduce a basic entitlement to publicly funded personal care for individuals with substantial and critical levels of need. Accommodation costs and the costs of other help and support should still be incurred by the individual. The Health Foundation and the King’s Fund estimate this would cost £7 billion if introduced in 2020/21.
  • To avoid catastrophic accommodation costs, the Government should also explore a cap on accommodation costs.
  • The Government should adopt a staged approach to providing the additional funding recommended by this report. It should immediately invest £8 billion in adult social care, then introduce free personal care over the next five years. Free personal care should be available universally by 2025/26.
  • Additional funding should be provided as a government grant, distributed directly to local authorities according to an appropriate national funding formula which takes into account differences between local authorities in demand for care and ability to raise funds from local taxation.
  • Funding social care should be approached in the same way as any other funding pressure. We recommend that social care is funded largely from general taxation.

Full report: Social care funding: time to end a national scandal

See also: Act now on social care crisis, Lords report tells Government

Patient Safety Strategy

The NHS patient safety strategy | NHS Improvement 

This strategy sets out what the NHS will do to achieve its vision to continuously improve patient safety.  To do this the NHS will build on two foundations: a patient safety culture and a patient safety system.

Three strategic aims will support the development of both:
• improving understanding of safety by drawing intelligence from multiple
sources of patient safety information (Insight)
• equipping patients, staff and partners with the skills and opportunities to
improve patient safety throughout the whole system (Involvement)
• designing and supporting programmes that deliver effective and sustainable
change in the most important areas (Improvement).

Full document: The NHS Patient Safety Strategy. Safer culture, safer systems, safer

See also: How data can shape a safer NHS|  Nuffield Trust blog

Innovating with NHS data

Public attitudes to organisations innovating with NHS data | National Data Guardian


The National Data Guardian (NDG) has released findings from a poll on public attitudes to NHS organisations working with partners to use data to develop new medicines and technologies to improve health.

The poll tested what the public thought would be fair when partnerships with universities or private companies result in valuable new discoveries that could be traded commercially.  It found strong support for the idea that NHS and patients should benefit from such partnerships although significant proportions of respondents said they neither agreed nor disagreed with whether the range of benefits was fair.

The NDG is now calling for a debate about the relationships between the NHS and those innovating with NHS data.

Full detail: NDG poll findings