GP spending 'less than the 1950s'

GP services take up proportionally less of the NHS budget today than they did in the 1950s, according to the latest statistics.

Around 9.3 per cent of NHS spend in 2005/6 was on general medical services, compared with 17 per cent in the early 1950s, according to data from the Office of Health Economics' Compendium of Health Statistics, published this week.

However, the total cost of general medical services was £9 billion in 2005/6, representing a 77 per cent increase over the previous five years.

But GPs are seeing more patients each year. In 2005, UK GPs carried out 274 million consultations, eight million more than in 2000.

The statistics also show that over the past 10 years the number of GPs and other staff working in general practice has increased. Since 1996, the number of GPs working for the NHS has been upped by 20 per cent to 43,021.

GPs are increasingly working in larger practices, with 60 per cent working in practices of five or more GPs. At the same time the proportion of single-handed practices in the UK has halved, falling from 10 per cent in 1995 to 5 per cent in 2005.

Additionally, 11 per cent of the population has private medical insurance. The market is dominated by BUPA and AXA Private Patients plan, who, together, cover 65 per cent of private patients.

Office of Health Economics

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