How much does NHS Wales spend? You can find out the basics, but not in comparison with England yet.



Sarah Dickins reports for BBC News 27th Jan 2015: How much does NHS Wales spend? 

Unfortunately the article does not give ready comparisons with England, Scotland and N Ireland. Considering the rationing by top slicing of money by the Assembly, Wales is doing very well on spending…. and litigation!! It is on results that it will be judged, and these look to be some of the worst in the UK. Unfortunately we won’t KNOW until after the general election, and perhaps also the Welsh Assembly elections in a year’s time. It is perverse, but politicians in Wales have no incentive to publish, and we will have to await international data (such as WHO) which will then be disputed. One thing is certainly true at present : Local people need to be educated and engaged to accept what they need and not what they want. Local people ‘must help shape health’ in mid Wales. In Hywel Dda the “local people” (by which they mean the media as well) rejected a new build which, if offered today, they would grasp at.

In 2011/12, £6,379m was spent on health in Wales.

The seven local health boards spent the biggest chunk.

They are responsible for both funding and providing NHS services in their geographical area.

In the 2011/12 financial year, they were given £6,013m by the Welsh government to do that.


NHS finances – the workforce

Pie chart

As we can see from the pie chart above, most of the money is spent on staff – the various grades of nurses, doctors, consultants and administrative teams.

In 2013 there were the equivalent of 72,393 full-time jobs in the NHS in Wales.

This was an increase of 391 (0.5%) on the previous year.

The biggest increases were in medical and dental staff – a rise of 2.8% compared with 2012.

The table below shows the changes in staffing levels over a five-year period to 2013.


Excluding GPs and dentists, there are the equivalent of 36,312 people working full time in NHS Wales.

What is significant is the reduction in the number of managers and senior managers since 2009. In particular, a 28.5% reduction in senior staff.

Here you can also see a breakdown of local health board staff in your area.


NHS finances – spending money locally


Primary healthcare in Wales has an annual budget of £1,347m.

That pays for GPs, their teams of nurses and administrative support as well as prescribed drugs, pharmacies and other services.

The proportion spent on each service varies for each health board.


Case study: Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University health board

Let’s look how, for instance, the health board covering Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea spends its money.

As well looking after local hospitals, it has £232.7m to spend on primary healthcare alone and we can show how that breaks down.


The largest amount goes on prescribed drugs and appliances, followed by general medical services – which covers GPs and their staff.

There is much discussion about patients’ access to local doctors. In Wales there are broadly six GPs for every 10,000 people, similar to England and Northern Ireland.

But in Scotland, it is notably higher with eight per 10,000 (Stats Wales/House of Commons Library, 2013).


What do illnesses cost to treat?

GraphicThis shows the top 10 conditions by amount spent in the health service
GraphicThis shows the cost of beds and the average cost per patient visit

The debate about spending priorities in healthcare is a very complicated one and individual spending categories cannot really be looked at in isolation.

Even if we had not been rocked by the global financial crisis of 2008 and the policies of austerity that followed, the health service would still have had to consider its priorities.

Costs for services and pharmaceuticals would have increased as would patient demands and population growth.

The fact that we are still trying to recover from a recession – and have increasing social pressures – heightens discussion about the health service we want for the future.

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Perverse Incentives, Post Code Lottery, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

2 thoughts on “How much does NHS Wales spend? You can find out the basics, but not in comparison with England yet.

  1. Pingback: Financial Reality – The Health and Social Security budget will break us by 2020. We need to focus on duties rather than rights in healthcare.. | NHS reality. An NHS soapbox. Speakers' corner for the NHS.

  2. Pingback: Wales is an unsustainable state: another good reason not to leave the EU. Graphics in support… | NHS reality. An NHS soapbox. Speakers' corner for the NHS.

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