Fiscal sustainability and health care in the United Kingdom

Nuffield Trust Chief Economist Anita Charlesworth examines productivity and the long term fiscal sustainability of health care in the UK in light of tighter controls on public health spending. She also looks at the impact of the current global economic crisis on the stability of UK health care in the shorter term.

Journal article

Published: 11/06/2013

Journal article information


Health spending in the United Kingdom increased rapidly over the last decade but growth has now come to a halt as fiscal consolidation leads to tighter controls on public health spending. Longer term, the UK – in common with other European countries – faces a fiscal sustainability challenge. Health spending now accounts for more than one-sixth of total government spending. The pressure to increase spending on health is expected to outpace projections for government revenues. The pressures reflect demographic change – an increasing and ageing population – but other factors, such as the prevalence and management of chronic disease, relative pay and prices, new technology and productivity are more significant drivers of health spending. The success of countries in mitigating these pressures will be an important determinant of whether health systems can be fiscally sustainable without increasing tax or finding new sources of funding for health care