• All four countries of the UK spend more per head on health now than they did in 2003/04.
  • The trend has flattened since 2009/10, with Wales in particular decreasing spending per head on health.
  • Scotland continues to spend the most, while England continues to spend the least.

All four countries in the UK have followed a similar upward trend since 2003/04, although historically, England has spent the least and Scotland the most per head.

While public spending is allocated using the Barnett Formula, spending on health is a devolved issue and so the devolved nations can choose how much of their public spending to allocate to health. As addressed in our May newsletter, the countries choose not just to spend different amounts on health, but also to spend it on very different things.

However, since 2009/10 this upward trend has either flattened or been reversed in all the countries in the UK apart from Northern Ireland, where spending per head rose in 2012/13 to similar levels to Scotland. In 2013/14, Scotland spent £2,187 and Northern Ireland spent £2,158 (2015/16 prices). The sharpest decrease since 2009 was in Wales, which has dropped to a similar level to England. Wales spent £2,026 per head in real terms in 2013/14, compared to £2,028 in England (2015/16 prices).

Over the period, spending in England grew at the fastest rate, with a 2.5% annual average growth rate, compared to just 1.3% in Wales.

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