UK government healthcare spending is more than entire economies of 11 EU countries COMBINED

Graham Charles Lear
9 min readSep 18, 2021

The NHS & GP practices employ 1.5m people in England alone — what do they all do?

My analysis of the largest employer in Europe — how many are the medical staff?

These NHS numbers are so bad they’re scarcely believable, but they’re official.

I reveal the full scale of the catastrophic effect of COVID on the NHS’s performance

I wanted to know the true picture of just how much the nation’s health is being affected by the focus on COVID-19 since it started. All figures come from the official source — the NHS itself, and the Office of National Statistics

Here are the three questions I chose, from what was available in the detailed data

  1. How many people have waited longer than four months (NHS target) from GP referral to treatment?
  2. How many have been waiting longer than one year?
  3. How many people are now waiting for treatment overall?

To keep things simple, I am showing just three facts, with MY usual ‘at-a-glance charts for each. The full picture is far worse because it does not reflect the extraordinary delays which people have experienced in trying to see their GP. All I can show is what has happened once they have seen their GP, been diagnosed, and been referred to a specialist.

And that on its own is bad enough, as readers will see.

  1. Waiting more than four months: 1.78 MILLION (+187%)

2. Waiting more than one year: 293,100 (+28,301% — over 28 thousand per cent rise)

3. Total patients waiting: 5.61 MILLION (+28.2%)

Patients waiting for more than NHS 18-week target: 1.78 MILLION (an increase of 187% in two years)

Patients waiting for more than ONE year: 293,100 (an increase of 28,301% in two years)

NOTE: I know the percentage increase of over 28,000% is astonishing. This is not a typo. In July 2019 there were 1,032 people who had been waiting more than a year for treatment. By July of this year, the number had risen to 293,102.

Total patients waiting for specialist treatment: 5.6 MILLION (an increase of 28.2% in two years)

The ticking time bomb of the nation’s health

According to The King’s Fund, an authoritative source widely used in the health profession:-

“Covid-19 has had a big impact on elective waiting times. To prioritise hospital capacity for Covid-19 and emergency patients the NHS paused elective (non-urgent) treatment in April 2020 meaning waiting times grew quickly. However, during the national lockdowns fewer people were referred for treatment so the overall number of people on the waiting list remained fairly stable. We don’t yet know if there will be a backlog of people who will seek treatment as restrictions continue to be lifted.”

The King’s Fund report, 05 Aug 2021

There were almost six million fewer referrals in 2020 compared to 2019. It is highly unlikely that these patients all cured themselves,

There are now recorded cases of people who became very ill but whose relatives could not persuade the GP to see them, and who sadly died as a result. In addition, there are recorded cases of urgent calls for ambulances that did not arrive for many hours. And finally, I know that the number of deaths at home has risen dramatically, but the reasons have not been analysed or published. As yet there is no official, detailed data about any of this.

I have long been dissatisfied with the quality and scope of the data available about the COVID-19 situation, and I have written about this before.

When a country is facing a situation where the government takes actions that change the fabric of society, possibly forever in several aspects, and which have had the largest impact on the economy of a country since the Second World War, it might be thought that all decisions would be based on the best facts which every official statistician involved could possibly supply.

It might also be thought that the nation’s broadcasters — in particular the state-funded BBC — would investigate the facts and ask all the appropriate questions of government.

Neither of these two hopes has been realised in the last 20 months.

Whatever readers’ individual views might be about masks, lockdowns, vaccines, COVID passports and the rest of it, I imagine all readers would like to know that the decisions made by Government would be based on very reliable and highly detailed information. I am sure that readers would also expect that decisions would be made considering all the contexts, rather than knee-jerk reactions to incomplete figures about one serious health scare.

So with all this in mind, I took the time to look at a few things in the NHS its self. The full scale of the catastrophic effect of COVID on the NHS’s performance is shocking, to say the least.

So “What do the 1.5m+ people working for NHS England and GP practices do?”

The official figure of 1,344,679 employees of NHS England does not include the GPs and dentists who are not directly employed by the NHS. In England, there are also 183,769 people working in general practice and more than 24,000 dentists. This brings the overall total for England to 1.56 million people. Then there are care homes and other services, which are beyond the scope of this report.

How many of the NHS staff are medical staff and how many are support, admin and management?

Latest NHS staffing numbers at May 2021

  • Total NHS England staff: 1,344,679 employed
  • Key ‘Front line’ medical staff — 524,184 (38.98%), of which:-
  • NHS consultants & doctors: 131,831 (9.8%)
  • NHS nurses & health visitors: 346,582 (25.8%)
  • NHS midwives: 26,892
  • NHS ambulance staff: 18,879

Other staff and now we are getting to the nitty-gritty of the problem

  • Scientific, therapeutic & technical staff: 174,404 (13%)
  • Support staff, central functions, and management: 648,232 (48.2%)

Summary: More than six out of ten NHS England employees are not key front-line medical staff.

Overall, NHS England classifies 51.9% of its staff as “Professionally qualified clinical staff”. Less than 10% of NHS England employees are hospital doctors and less than 28% are hospital nurses, midwives, or health visitors

How do GP practices compare with the central NHS?

In addition to NHS England headcount, I analysed the latest official staffing numbers at GP practices in England using the latest figures for July 2021. These are not NHS employees and the results are as follows.

What do the staff of GP practices do?

  • All GP Practice staff in England: 183,769, of which:
  • Qualified Permanent GPs, excluding trainees & locums: 35,013 (19.1%)
  • Nurses, including trainees: 23,171 (12.6%)
  • Other patient care, including physios, therapists, etc, and trainees: 20,183 (11.0%)
  • Admin and managers: 96,989 (52.8%)

In broad terms, GP practices have almost double the proportion of doctors as NHS England and less than half the proportion of nursing staff.

Would you like to earn £10-£20,000 per MONTH, a generous NHS pension and other benefits, relocation expenses, flexible hours, no chance of being fired for incompetence? YOU WOULD? THEN READ ON McDuff and apply

I looked at some of the jobs currently on offer in the NHS, in positions that require no medical competence.

Could you be a ‘Deputy Director of People’ for £115,000 per annum, plus all the generous benefits?
What about being responsible for directing the maintenance of 10 buildings for £130,000 per annum?
Or maybe become a ‘Director of Design Quality for £115,000 per annum?
Or perhaps you fancy one of the 42 new NHS management jobs on offer which pay up to £270,000 per annum?

And you wonder why the NHS costs so much money to run.

Want to know the exact amount that is spent on the NHS. Well first of all can I ask you to sit down and have your phone on speed dial to phone for an ambulance in case you have a heart attack from the shock.

In 2020, overall government expenditure on healthcare in the UK as a whole was an astonishing £220.3bn, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.,

Now let me put that into perspective, this 220.3billion is more than the entire gross domestic products of each of 16 of the 27 EU countries



Czech Republic

That my friends is mind-blowing and gets even more mind-blowing in fact, because UK government spending on healthcare in 2020 was larger than the entire economies of 11 EU countries COMBINED:
Malta, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Croatia, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Slovakia, and Hungary.

This is about the NHS as an organisation — not its people

Inevitably when I produce summary articles such as the one above, some people on social media will always throw abuse. “Don’t you appreciate what these caring people have been doing for us?” they will cry, indignantly.

It should of course be self-evident that I am publishing an analysis of aggregate figures and I intend no disrespect to any of the fine people who work on the front line to provide us all with healthcare. Above I have highlighted just a few headline facts about the NHS as an organisation. Firstly, more than six out of 10 employees of NHS England are not frontline medical staff. Secondly, the amount of UK government healthcare spending is more than the entire economic output of 11 EU countries combined. Thirdly, NHS England on its own — excluding Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland — is the largest employer in Europe.

The NHS structure must be reformed and simplified

For decades successive governments have promised that they would reorganise the NHS, cut down on bureaucracy, and make it more efficient. Yet the NHS continues to recruit non-medical staff at salaries that would make most people’s eyes water.

There is no doubt that people are receiving a sub-standard service from ‘our NHS’ in many parts of the country. Throwing even more billions at the NHS with no attempt to make it more efficient, when the country is facing massive debts due to the Covid measures, does not strike us as the most intelligent approach.

Let me tell a story from 2002.

In 2002 I had an accident that left me with a knee injury that subsequently led to a whole new knee eight years later, not only did I have a new knee everything concerning in that area had to be worked on so the new knee could be fitted. The operation took six hours where normally it would have taken just 1 hour and a half and its thanks to the skill of the specialist and his excellent team that he had built around him that I can walk normally on it he and they worked what I would call a small miracle.

However, when I first had that accident I, unfortunately, saw another side of the NHS and it had nothing to do with anything medical. Every Wednesday I had to go to the hospital for check-ups to see how the wound from the three operations was healing. It a simple, go in wait in a waiting room with around 100 others wait until my name was called and see the Fracture surgeon.

This particular day everyone was standing outside the room, the room was empty, with no chairs just an empty room. Suddenly they came with brand new chairs. They were the same type as before same colour same design nice and comfy. However here's the thing there was nothing wrong with the old ones nothing at all. Yet some NHS managers had made the decision to change every one of them. That would have cost a minimum of £5,000. Not only that if this going on in that department it was also going on in other departments throughout the hospital and in others because it was coming to the end of the fiscal year

It’s easy to spend other people’s money. It’s a little more challenging to spend it wisely.

Sources: NHS England | NHS Digital | HM Treasury | EU Commission statistics agency



Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.