NHS statistics, facts and figures

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Get the facts behind the headlines with our compilation of key NHS statistics. The NHS facts and figures apply to England, unless otherwise stated. This data was last updated in July 2017.

NHS funding

  • NHS net expenditure (resource plus capital, minus depreciation) has increased from £78.881 billion in 2006/071 to £120.512 billion in 2016/17.2 Planned expenditure for 2017/18 is £123.817bn and for 2018/19 is £126.269bn.3
  • In real terms the budget is expected to increase from £120.512bn in 2016/17 to £123.202bn by 2019/20.4  
  • Health expenditure (medical services, health research, central and other health services) per capita in England has risen from £1,879 in 2011/12 to £2,106 in 2015/16.5
  • 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).6 The provider deficit for the 2016/17 financial year has been confirmed at £791m.7  
  • 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 2011/12.8 CCG investment in mental health was £9.148bn in 2015/16 and a planned £9.500bn in 2016/17.9

Providers and commissioners of NHS services  

 There are in England:

  • 207 clinical commissioning groups10
  • 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)11
  • 7,454 GP practices12
  • 853 for-profit and not-for-profit independent sector organisations, providing care to NHS patients from 7,331 locations13


NHS staff

  • In March 2017, across Hospital and Community Healthcare Services (HCHS), the NHS employed (full-time equivalent): 106,430 doctors; 285,893 nurses and health visitors; 21,597 midwives; 132,673 scientific, therapeutic and technical staff; 19,772 ambulance staff; 21,139 managers; and 9,974 senior managers.14
  • There were 10,934 additional HCHS doctors (FTE) employed in the NHS in March 2017 compared to March 2010 (11.45 per cent). In the past year the number has increased by 2.29 per cent.15
  • There were 3,910 more NHS nurses and health visitors (FTE) across HCHS in March 2017 compared to seven years earlier (1.39 per cent). In the past year the number has increased by 0.18 per cent.16 
  • There were 2,197 more ambulance staff in March 2017 compared to seven years earlier (12.50 per cent). In the past year the number has increased by 7.48 per cent.17
  • There were 145 fewer psychiatrists across all grades (FTE) in March 2017 than March 2010 (1.64 per cent decrease). Over the same period there has been a decline in the number of mental health nurses of 5,161 (12.63 per cent).18
  • There were 5,027 more qualified allied health professionals (FTE) in March 2017 compared to March 2010 (8.51 per cent). However the number of qualified healthcare scientists has declined over the same period, with the FTE number in March 2017 2,388 below that of March 2010 (9.16 per cent).19
  • 54.06 per cent of NHS employees across HCHS are professionally qualified clinical staff, as of March 2017. A further 29.89 per cent provide support to clinical staff in roles such as nursing assistant practitioners, nursing assistant/auxiliaries and healthcare assistants.20
  • In March 2017, 61,934 EU staff were working across HCHS – equivalent to 5.22 per cent of the headcount. This equates to 57,737 FTE, which is 5.51 per cent.21 
  • Between March 2010 and March 2017 the number of professionally qualified clinical staff across HCHS has risen by 5.89 per cent.22
  • In March 2017 there were 33,423 full-time equivalent GPs (excluding locums), which is a reduction of 890 (2.59 per cent) on March 2016.23
  • In September 2016 there were (full-time equivalent): 15,827 nurses in GP practices; 10,009 GP direct patient care staff; and 65,334 admin/non-clinical staff. While the number of nurses in GP practices had increased by 429 (2.79 per cent) since September 2015, the number of practice nurses declined by 67 (0.57 per cent) over the same period. 24 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.25 7,112 graduates were accepted on to foundation programmes across the UK in 2016.26 



  • Managers and senior managers accounted for 2.97 per cent of the 1.048 million FTE staff employed by HCHS across the NHS in March 2017.
  • 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 March 2017 (31,113) remains below 18.90 per cent below that of March 2010 (38,365).27
  • In 2008/09 the management costs of the NHS had fallen from 5.0 per cent in 1997/98 to 3.0 per cent.28


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 2017.  
  • The NHS was rated as the best system in terms of safe care, affordability and equity. It was also ranked first in the 'care process' category, which encompassed preventive care, safe care, coordinated care and engagement and patient preferences.
  • In the category of health care outcomes, the NHS fared less well (10th). However the researchers did find that the UK achieved the greatest decline in mortality amenable to healthcare between 2004 and 2014 (37 per cent). 29
  • Current health expenditure in the UK was 9.75 per cent of GDP in 2016. This compares to 17.21 per cent in the USA, 11.27 per cent in Germany, 10.98 per cent in France, 10.50 per cent in the Netherlands, 10.37 per cent in Denmark, 10.34 per cent in Canada, 8.98 per cent in Spain and 8.94 per cent in Italy.
  • Current expenditure per capita (using the purchasing power parity) for the UK was $4,192 in 2016. This can be compared to $9,892 in the USA, $5,551 in Germany, $5,385 in the Netherlands, $5,199 in Denmark, $4,644 in Canada, $4,600 in France, $3,391 in Italy and $3,248 in Spain.  
  • The UK had 2.8 physicians per 1,000 people in 2016, compared to 4.1 in Germany (2015), 3.9 in Spain (2015), 3.8 in Italy (2015), 3.5 in Australia (2015, est), 3.4 in France, 3.0 in New Zealand (2015) and 2.7 in Canada (2015).
  • The UK had 2.6 hospital beds per 1,000 people in 2015, compared to 8.1 in Germany, 6.1 in France, 3.2 in Italy (2015), 3.0 in Spain, 2.8 in the USA (2014), 2.7 in New Zealand (2016) and 2.6 in Denmark (2016).
  • The UK had 0.4 psychiatric care beds per 1,000 people in 2015. This compares to 1.3 in Germany, 0.9 in France, 0.4 in Canada, 0.4 in Denmark (2016), 0.4 in Spain, 0.2 in the USA (2014) and 0.1 in Italy.
  • Average length of stay for inpatient stays in the UK was 7.0 days in 2015. This compares to 29.1 in Japan, 10.1 in France (2014), 9.0 in Germany, 7.8 in Italy, 7.3 in Spain, 6.2 in the Netherlands, 6.1 in the USA (2014) and 5.4 in Denmark (2016).30           


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.31
  • 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.32
  • In April 2017, 95.79 per cent of 205,417 inpatients treated by NHS trusts and foundation trusts would recommend their provider to friends or family (25.9 per cent response rate). For 16,017 inpatients treated by independent sector organisations, the proportion was 98.78 per cent (39.0 per cent response rate).
  • In April 2017, 88.68 per cent of 16,396 patients that used mental health services would recommend their provider to friends or family. In the same month, 95.73 per cent of 97,267 patients using community services would recommend their provider in the same way.33
  • Aggregated GP Patient Survey results from January-March 2017 found that 84.8 per cent of respondents rated their overall experience at the GP surgery as 'very good' or 'fairly good.'
  • 82.8 per cent felt their GP was good at treating them with care and concern. 72.7 per cent rated their overall experience at making an appointment as good.
  • 66.3 per cent stated their overall experience of out-of-hours GP services was good.34
  • 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.35


NHS activity

  • The NHS deals with over 1 million patients every 36 hours.36
  • 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.37
  • There were 16.252m total hospital admissions in 2015/16, 28 per cent more than a decade earlier (12.679m).38
  • 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).39
  • 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.40
  • 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).41
  • 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.42
  • 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.43
  • 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.44
  • 63,622 people were detained under the Mental Health Act in 2015/16, 8.9 per cent higher than 2014/15.45
  • There were 2.643m category A calls (Red 1 and Red 2) that resulted in an ambulance arriving at the scene in 2016/17.46 
  • 68.7 per cent of Red 1 ambulance calls were responded to within eight minutes in 2016/17.47
  • At the end of April 2017, there were 3.783 million patients on the waiting list for treatment. 382,618 (10.1 per cent) had been waiting for longer than 18 weeks, compared to 302,901 (8.4 per cent) at the same point in 2016.48
  • 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 April 2017 the number stood at 1,573. Over the past three years, the number waiting in excess of 26 weeks has increased from 60,402 in April 2014 to 136,030 in April 2017.49
  • 90.5 per cent of people with non-admitted pathways were treated or discharged within 18 weeks of referral in April 2017, compared to 92.1 per cent a year earlier.50
  • In April 2017, 72.5 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. This compares to 65.0 per cent in April 2016.51
  • At the end of April 2017, 885,876 patients were on the waiting list for a diagnostic test. Of these, 1.8 per cent had been waiting in excess of six weeks.52


Health and population

  • Life expectancy for English men in 2013-15: 79.4 years.53
  • Life expectancy for English women in 2013-15: 83.1 years.54 
  • 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.55
  • There are an estimated 3.0 million people with diabetes in England (2016).56
  • In England the proportion of men classified as obese increased from 13.2 per cent in 1993 to 26.9 cent in 2015 (the highest proportion over the period), and from 16.4 per cent to 26.8 per cent for women over the same timescale (the joint highest for the period covered with 2014).57
  • The proportion of boys aged 2-10 classified as obese has increased from 9.7 per cent in 1995 to 14.1 per cent in 2015 (compared to a peak of 17.4 in 2006) and for boys aged 11-15 the proportion has risen from 13.9 to 17.8 per cent (peak of 24.3 in 2004) over the same period.58
  • The proportion of girls aged 2-10 classified as obese has increased from 10.6 per cent in 1995 to 11.4 per cent in 2015 (peak of 17.4 in 2005). However for girls aged 11-15 the proportion has actually declined from 15.5 to 14.8 (falling from a peak of 26.7 in 2004) over the same period.59



1 HM Treasury, Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis 2011

2 HM Treasury, Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis 2017

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid

6 NHS England, Annual Report 2015/16 (commissioner underspend) and NHS Improvement, Performance of the NHS provider sector: year ended 2015/16 (provider deficits)

7 NHS Improvement, Quarterly performance of the NHS provider sector: quarter 4 2016/17

8 Mental Health Strategies, 2011/12 National Survey of Investment in Adult Mental Health Services

9 NHS England, Mental Health Five Year Forward View Dashboard

10 NHS England, CCG improvement and assessment 2016/17

11 NHS Confederation analysis

12 NHS Digital, General and Personal Medical Services, England High-Level March 2017, Provisional Experimental Statistics

13 NHS Digital, Organisation Data Service

14 NHS Digital, NHS Workforce Statistics - March 2017, Provisional statistics

15 Ibid.

16 Ibid.

17 Ibid.

18 Ibid.

19 Ibid.

20 Ibid.

21 Ibid.

22 Ibid.

23 NHS Digital, General and Personal Medical Services, England High-Level March 2017, Provisional Experimental Statistics

24 NHS Digital, General and Personal Medical Services, England 2006-2016

25 Hansard, HC Deb, 8 October 2013, c275W

26 The Foundation Programme, Resource Pack

27 NHS Digital, NHS Workforce Statistics - March 2017, Provisional statistics

28 Department of Health, Memorandum to Health Select Committee for Public Expenditure on Health and Personal Social Services 2009 

29 The Commonwealth Fund, Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, 2017 Update

30 OECD, Health Statistics 2017

31 Care Quality Commission, Inpatient survey 2016

32 Care Quality Commission, Community mental health survey 2016

33 NHS England, Friends and Family Test Data - April 2017

34 NHS England, GP Patient Survey 2017

35 National Centre for Social Research/The King's Fund, British Social Attitudes Survey 2016

36 Department of Health, Chief Executive's report to the NHS: December 2005

37 NHS Digital, Hospital Admitted Patient Care Activity, 2015-16

38 Ibid.

39 NHS England, A&E Attendances and Emergency Admissions

40 Ibid.

41 NHS Digital, Hospital Outpatient Activity, 2015-16

42 NHS England, Quarterly Hospital Activity Data

43 NHS Digital, Mental Health Services Data Set

44 Ibid.

45 NHS Digital, Inpatients formally detained in hospitals under the Mental Health Act 1983 and patient subject to Supervised Community Treatment: 2015/16

46 NHS England, Ambulance Quality Indicators

47 Ibid.

48 NHS England, Consultant-led Referral to Treatment Waiting Times

49 Ibid.

50 Ibid.

51 NHS England, Early intervention in Psychosis Waiting Times

52 NHS England, Diagnostic test waiting times and activity

53 Office for National Statistics, National Life Tables, UK: 2013-15

54 Ibid.

55 Office for National Statistics, National Population Projections: 2014-based Statistical Bulletin

56 Diabetes UK, Diabetes Prevalence 2016

57 NHS Digital, Health Survey for England 2015

58 Ibid.

59 Ibid.

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