Key statistics on the NHS

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19 / 2 / 2015 00:00 AM

We have compiled some key statistics on the NHS. This data was last updated in February 2015. The figures apply to England, unless otherwise stated.

NHS funding

  • NHS net expenditure (resource plus capital, minus depreciation) has increased from £64.173 billion in 2003/04 to £109.721bn in 2013/14. Planned expenditure for 2014/15 is £113.035bn. 
  • Health expenditure per capita in England has risen from £1,712 in 2008/09 to £1,912 in 2012/13.
  • The NHS net surplus for the 2013/14 financial year was £722 million (£813m underspend by commissioners and a £91m net 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:

  • 211 clinical commissioning groups (including 201 now authorised without conditions)
  • 156 acute trusts (including 101 foundation trusts)
  • 56 mental health trusts (including 41 foundation trusts) 
  • 34 community providers (16 NHS trusts, 2 foundation trusts and 16 social enterprises)
  • 10 ambulance trusts (including 5 foundation trusts)
  • c.8,000 GP practices
  • 853 for-profit and not-for-profit independent sector organisations, providing care to NHS patients from 7,331 locations

NHS staff

  • In 2013 the NHS employed 147,087 doctors, 371,777 qualified nursing staff, 154,109 qualified scientific, therapeutic and technical staff and 36,360 managers. 
  • There were 37,843 additional doctors employed in the NHS in 2013 compared to 2003. The number has increased by an annual average of 3.0 per cent over that time.
  • There were 23,531 more NHS nurses in 2013 compared to ten years earlier. While the total employed in 2013 was an increase on the previous year, it remains below the number in 2010.
  • 2,166 more practice nurses were employed by GPs in 2013 than ten years earlier.
  • There were 13,974 more qualified allied health professionals and 3,968 more health scientists employed in the NHS in 2013 compared to 2003. However the number within the latter group has declined for each of the past four years.
  • 50.6 per cent of NHS employees are professionally qualified clinical staff.
  • 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.
  • Since 2003 the number of professionally qualified clinical staff within the NHS has risen by 16.1 per cent. This rise includes an increase in doctors of 34.4 per cent; a rise in the number of nurses of 6.8 per cent; and 17.4 per cent more qualified ambulance staff.
  • Medical school intake rose from 3,749 in 1997/98 to 6,262 in 2012/13 - a rise of 67.0 per cent.  


  • Managers and senior managers accounted for 2.66 per cent of the 1.364 million staff employed by the NHS in 2013.
  • The number of managers and senior managers has declined in each of the past four years and stood at 36,360 in 2013, the lowest total since 2003.
  • 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.
  • Health expenditure in the UK was 9.27 per cent of GDP in 2012. This compares to 16.90 per cent in the USA, 11.77 per cent in the Netherlands, 11.61 per cent in France, 11.27 per cent in Germany, 10.98 per cent in Denmark, 10.93 per cent in Canada and 9.19 per cent in Italy.
  • The UK had 2.8 physicians per 1,000 people in 2012, compared to 4.0 in Germany, 3.9 in Italy, 3.8 in Spain, 3.3 in France, 3.3 in Australia, 2.7 in New Zealand and 2.5 in Canada.
  • The UK had 2.8 hospital beds per 1,000 people in 2012, compared to 8.3 in Germany, 6.3 in France, 3.4 in Italy, 3.0 in Spain and 2.8 in New Zealand.
  • Average length of stay for all causes in the UK was 7.0 days in 2012. This compares to 9.2 in Germany, 8.2 in New Zealand, 7.7 in Italy, 7.4 in Canada, 6.7 in Spain, 5.6 in France and 5.2 in the Netherlands.      

Patient experience

  • In the 2013 Care Quality Commission inpatient satisfaction survey 82 per cent of c59,000 respondents rated their overall experience as 7 (11 per cent), 8 (23 per cent), 9 (21 per cent) or 10 (27 per cent) out of 10.
  • 81 per cent felt that they were always treated with dignity and respect while using inpatient services.
  • 69 per cent said that their room or ward was 'very clean.'
  • In the 2011 Care Quality Commission outpatient survey 95 per cent of people using outpatient services reported their care as being excellent (44 per cent), very good (39 per cent) or good (12 per cent).
  • 89 per cent of people agreed that they were treated with dignity and respect at all these times while visiting outpatient services.
  • 67 per cent of respondents to the CQC's community mental health services survey for 2013 rated their experience between 7 and 10 out of 10.
  • 78 per cent 'definitely' felt listened to carefully and 72 per cent 'definitely' had their views taken into account.
  • In December 2014, 94.50 per cent of 109,084 inpatients treated by NHS trusts and foundation trusts would recommend their provider to friends or family (33.5 per cent response rate). For 3,908 inpatients treated by independent sector organisations, the proportion was 99.0 per cent (35.3 per cent response rate).
  • Aggregated GP Patient Survey results from January-March and July-September 2013 found that 86.2 per cent of respondents rated their overall experience as 'good.'
  • 64.2 per cent 'definitely' had confidence and trust in the last GP they saw. 78.6 per cent were satisfied with the opening hours of their practice.
  • 67.5 per cent stated their overall experience of out-of-hours GP services were 'good.'

NHS activity

  • The NHS deals with over 1 million patients every 36 hours.
  • In 2012/13 there were 60 per cent more operations completed by the NHS compared to 2002/03, with an increase from 6.613m to 10.595m.
  • The total annual attendances at Accident & Emergency departments was 21.779m in 2013/14, 32 per cent higher than a decade earlier (16.517m).
  • The 95 per cent standard to see patients within 4 hours of arrival at Accident & Emergency departments was achieved in 21 weeks during 2014.
  • There were 15.146m total hospital admissions in 2012/13, compared to 11.414m in 2002/03.
  • The total number of outpatient attendances in 2012/13 was 75.456m, an increase of 1.074m on the previous year.
  • In the year to September 2014, 418,661 NHS patients chose independent providers for their elective inpatient care. There were 688,977 referrals made by GPs to independent providers for outpatient care during the same period.
  • There were 1.747m people in contact with specialist mental health services in 2013/14. 105,270 (6.0 per cent) spent time in hospital.

  • There were 21.706m outpatient and community contacts arranged for mental health service users in 2013/14.
  • 53,176 people were detained for more than 72 hours under the Mental Health Act in 2013/14.
  • 75.60 per cent of Red 1 ambulance calls were responded to within eight minutes in 2013/14.
  • There has been an 18.5 per cent increase in emergency incidents between 2007/08 and 2012/13, reaching 6.89m in the latter year. 
  • At the end of December 2014, there were 2.929 million patients on the waiting list for treatment. 209,514 (7.2 per cent) had been waiting for longer than 18 weeks, compared to 184,456 (6.4 per cent) at the same point in 2013.
  • Over the past three years the number of patients waiting longer than a year for treatment has declined from 6,071 in December 2011 to 399 in December 2014.
  • In the same period, the number waiting in excess of 26 weeks has declined from 76,665 to 63,622.
  • 90.2 per cent of people with admitted pathways (adjusted) were treated within 18 weeks of referral in December 2014, compared to 91.5 per cent a year earlier. 
  • 95.5 per cent of people with non-admitted pathways were treated or discharged within 18 weeks of referral in December 2014, compared to 96.8 per cent a year earlier. 
  • At the end of December 2014, 763,006 patients were on the waiting list for a diagnostic test. Of these, 2.0 per cent had been waiting in excess of six weeks.

Health and population

  • Life expectancy for UK men in 2010-12: 78.9 years.
  • Life expectancy for UK women in 2010-12: 82.7 years
  • The UK population is projected to increase from an estimated 63.7 million in mid-2012 to 67.13 million by 2020 and 71.04 million by 2030.
  • The UK population is expected to continue ageing, with the average age rising from 39.7 in 2012 to 42.8 by 2037.
  • The number of people aged 65 and over is projected to increase from 10.84m in 2012 to 17.79m by 2037. As part of this growth, the number of over-85s is estimated to more than double from 1.44 million in 2012 to 3.64 million by 2037.
  • The number of people of State Pension Age (SPA) in the UK exceeded the number of children for the first time in 2007 and by 2012 the disparity had reached 0.5 million. However the ONS currently projects that this situation will have reversed by 2018, with 0.3 million more children than those at SPA.
  • There are an estimated 3.2 million people with diabetes in the UK (2013). This is predicted to reach 4 million by 2025. 
  • In England the proportion of men classified as obese increased from 13.2 per cent in 1993 to 24.4 per cent in 2012 (peak of 26.2 in 2010), and from 16.4 per cent to 25.1 per cent for women over the same timescale (peak of 26.1 in 2010).

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