42 UK Health Statistics That Go Beyond the Coronavirus

Staying healthy has always been (and should be) a priority for people everywhere. Sadly, with the pandemic raging across the globe and taking its toll on health systems, it has never been more important to stay on top of one’s health and wellbeing.

To help you do just that, we have put together the most relevant UK health statistics in 2021. These facts and stats will give insight into the public health care system, major health issues, and the quality of life of the United Kingdom’s population.

Hopefully, they will also encourage you to take better care of yourself and your health. 

Let’s take a closer look.

Ten UK Health Statistics To Get You Back on Your Feet

  • Around 15 million people in the UK live with at least one chronic disease.
  • As of 2018, Alzheimer disease and dementia is the biggest cause of death in the UK
  • Heart disease is the main cause of mortality in Scotland and Wales. 
  • Smoking is the cause of roughly 55,000 cases of cancer a year. 
  • 1.6 million workers in the UK suffer from a work-related illness. 
  • Total healthcare expenditure in the UK amounted to £214.4 billion in 2018.
  • There are 1,257 hospitals in the UK.
  • One in five Brits suffered from some form of depression during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Britain has the highest number of Covid-19 deaths in Europe.
  • Over 33 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Health Statistics in the UK

1. Life expectancy at birth in the UK is on the rise.

(Statista) (The Office for National Statistics) 

Thanks to many public health measures and lifestyle changes over the years, mortality rates in the UK are declining. According to Statista, in 2019, the rate stood at 9.1 deaths per 1,000 people, a drastic drop from the 10.4 death rate recorded in 2000.

As mortality rates go down, life expectancy goes up. Thus, in the 2017–2019 period, the average life expectancy in the UK at birth was 83.1 years for females and 79.4 for males—the highest on record for both genders. 

Overall, London residents had the highest life expectancy at birth (80.9 and 84.7 for men and women, accordingly), whilst Scotts had the lowest (77.2 and 81.1). 

2. Healthy life expectancy at birth decreased for women from 63.7 in 2016 to 63.3 in 2019. 

(The Office for National Statistics)

On the other hand, the HLE at birth for men remained pretty much the same, going down by just 7.3 weeks throughout the given period. Nevertheless, the average number of years women are expected to live in full health is higher than that of men—the HLE at birth for British men was 62.9 years in 2019, opposed to 63.3 years for women. 

3. Around 15 million people in the UK live with at least one chronic disease.

(The King’s Fund) (Eurostat)

More than 30% of the United Kingdom’s population is living with at least one long-term physical disease, the most common being diabetes, arthritis, COPD, and hypertension. 

According to 2019 chronic disease statistics, men in the UK were less likely than women to report consequences of chronic diseases and long-standing activities limitations (29.5% compared to 25%). 

4. As of 2018, Alzheimer disease and dementia is the biggest cause of death in the UK. 

(The Office for National Statistics) 

Accounting for 12.7% of all deaths recorded that year, dementia and Alzheimer disease has been declared as the leading cause of death in the country. 

Other common causes of mortality include ischaemic heart diseases, cerebrovascular disease, and different subtypes of cancer. 

5. Caring for people with dementia is costing the UK £34.7 billion.

(Alzheimer’s Society) (The Office for National Statistics) 

This number is expected to increase to a staggering £94.1 billion in two decades. 

850,000 British residents had dementia in 2019, 42,000 of which were younger than 65. Given the current numbers, it’s estimated that more than 1.6 million Brits will be affected by this condition by 2040.

What’s more, August 2020 medical statistics show that Alzheimer’s and dementia were the leading causes of mortality in England, accounting for 10.9% of all deaths. They were also the main cause of mortality for women—51,407 women in the UK died of this condition in 2018.

6. Heart disease is the main cause of mortality in Scotland and Wales. 

(The British Heart Foundation) (The Office for National Statistics) (National Records of Scotland)

The most important statistics on heart disease in the UK tell us that: 

  • 7.6 million people in the UK are living with heart disease, 4 million of which are men, and 3.6 million are women. 
  • Even though the number of deaths from IHD decreased to 40,214 in 2018, coronary heart disease is still the main cause of death among British men.
  • Accounting for 11% of all deaths in Wales, IHD was the leading cause of mortality in August and July 2020. 
  • Heart disease was also the main cause of death in Scotland in 2018, accounting for 11.3% of all deaths registered that year.
  • Nearly 1.4 million Brits have survived a heart attack, putting the heart attack survival rate in the UK at seven out of ten people. 

7. Cancer is the leading cause of death in Northern Ireland. 

(The Belfast Telegraph) (Cancer Research UK)

Cancer is the biggest killer in Northern Ireland, accounting for 28.4% of all deaths recorded in 2019. In total, cancer claimed the lives of 2,344 men and 2,133 women. 

Across the UK, cancer statistics reveal that: 

  • There were around 77,800 cancer deaths among females in the UK and about 89,000 cancer deaths among men in 2018.
  • One in two people in the UK born after 1960 will be diagnosed with some type of cancer during their lifetime. 
  • 54% of all cancer deaths in the UK are among people over 75, National Health statistics in the UK estimate.  
  • Lung, bowel, breast and prostate cancer are the most common types, accounting for 45% of all cancer deaths in 2018. Lung cancer alone is responsible for a fifth of all cancer deaths.

8. Stroke is the most common type of cerebrovascular disease. 

(Stroke Association) (The British Heart Foundation) 

The most common type of cerebrovascular disease, stroke accounts for around 75% of all deaths from cerebrovascular diseases in the UK. 

Every year, over 100,000 strokes take place in Britain, which translates to about a stroke every five minutes. So far, 1.2 million people have survived a stroke, while two-thirds leave the hospital with some disability.

Although most people who have strokes are older, one in four strokes happens to working-age people.

Health Risk Factors

9. There were 7,565 deaths related to alcohol-specific causes in 2019. 

(The Office for National Statistics) (Drinkaware) (The Guardian) 

It is said that the UK is a country of binge drinkers. Let’s look at some revealing UK health statistics about that:

  • The alcohol-specific death rate was 11.8 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019. More specifically, the death rates were nearly twice as high for men and much higher in Northern Ireland and Scotland than the rest of the UK. 
  • In the UK, alcohol-specific death rates were highest among 55 to 64-year-olds of both genders.
  • 27% of people who drank alcohol were classified as binge drinkers, a 2017 survey reveals. That is 28.7% of men and 25.6% of women. 
  • As many as one in ten hospital patients in the UK are alcohol-dependent, costing the NHS around £3.5 billion a year in treatment alone. 

10. Smoking is the cause of roughly 55,000 cases of cancer a year. 

(Cancer Research UK) (The Office for National Statistics) (ASH) (NHS) 

On top of that, smoking is considered a health risk factor for at least 15 cancer types. 

Other medical statistics and facts on smoking in the UK indicate that: 

  • The UK has nearly 6.9 million regular smokers, which is 14.1% of the adult population. Of those, 15.9% are men, and 12.5% are women.
  • In 2019/2020, there were an estimated 506,100 hospital admissions as a consequence of smoking. 
  • It’s estimated that the NHS spends about £2.5 billion per year, while the local authorities expenses for smoking-related social care was £760 million.

11. Obesity is one of the top health concerns among Brits. 

(WHO) (NHS) (The House of Commons Library)

In 2018/19, there were 11,117 hospital admissions directly connected to obesity, with men being more likely to be obese or overweight than women (68.2% vs 60.4, respectively).  

Furthermore, WHO statistics indicate that over a third of all deaths in the United Kingdom are due to behavioural risk factors, while dietary risks account for about 15 % of all deaths.

12. One in six UK deaths is the result of physical inactivity. 

(GOV.UK)

This means that physical inactivity kills as many people in the UK as smoking does. 

In Britain, 34% of men and 42% of women are not active enough to be in good health. This lack of physical activity is costing the country £7.4 billion a year, £0.9 billion of which falls to the NHS. 

13. High blood pressure affects more than one in four British adults. 

(NICE)

Even though it is one of the most treatable causes of death across the world, hypertension still kills about 75,000 people in the UK. Moreover, the clinical management of high blood pressure costs the health system £2.1 billion and accounts for 12% of all visits to primary care physicians. 

14. 1.6 million workers in the UK suffer from a work-related illness. 

(HSE)

2020 data reveals that around 693,000 workers sustain an injury at work, while 111 were killed. Additionally, 38.8 million working days were lost as a result of work-related injury or illness. 

UK Health Spending Statistics

15. Total healthcare expenditure in the UK amounted to £214.4 billion in 2018.

(The Office for National Statistics)

This sum, which translates to about £3,227 per person, covers both government and non-government expenditure on health care. Healthcare spending makes up 10% of the country’s GDP, a drastic increase from the 6.9% recorded in 1997, which means that healthcare expenditure is growing at a faster rate than the gross domestic product. 

16. Public UK healthcare spending stood at £149.5 billion.

(Statista)

Spending in both the public and private health care sector has been on the rise. In 2018, public healthcare expenditure amounted to almost £150 billion, slightly up from £143.8 recorded the previous year. Spending in the private sector, on the other hand, stood at £34.5 billion in 2018, an increase of 2.2 billion compared to 2017. 

17. The government funds 78% of total healthcare expenditure. 

(The Office for National Statistics)

Government spending on health, including spending by the NHS, local authorities and other public bodies, amounted to £166.7 billion in 2018, 78% of total healthcare expenditure. Public revenues, mainly taxes, fund almost all of government healthcare spending. Covering 79% of all spending on health, public revenue funding health care stood at £168.5 billion in 2018, higher than the government’s actual expenditure on health. 

Non-government spending in health is financed through these four categories:  

  • Out-of-pocket expenditure, accounting for 17% of total spending, or £35.8 billion, was the highest of non-government funding arrangements in 2018.
  • Voluntary health insurance made up for 3% of overall health care spending, or £6.3 billion.
  • Charitable and enterprise financing accounted for the smallest share of non-government spending, i.e. 2% and less than 1%, respectively. NPISH spending reached £4.5 billion, and enterprise financing was one billion in 2018. 

18. Long-term care expenditure was £48.3 billion in 2018. 

(The Office for National Statistics)

According to the most recent data from the Office for National Statistics, government expenditure was the primary means of funding long-term care, making up 64% of long-term care expenditure. About one-quarter or 26% was financed by out-of-pocket funds, and the rest was covered by charities. 

19. Hospitals account for nearly half of government healthcare expenditure.

(The Office for National Statistics)

When it comes to healthcare providers, 49% of government expenditure on health goes to hospitals, 24% is allocated to ambulatory healthcare, 9% is spent on medical goods, and another 8% is distributed to residential long-term care facilities.

In terms of government spending in hospitals, ONS reports that 97% of funds are related to spending on curative and rehabilitative care. 57% is spent on inpatient care, 11% on day cases, and 30% goes to outpatient care. 

20. Medical goods account for the largest share of out-of-pocket spending on health. 

(The Office for National Statistics)

Brits spent £15.4 billion of their own money on medical goods in 2018, or 43% of all out-of-pocket spending on health care by households, UK health statistics report. 

From this amount, 61% was spent on over-the-counter medicine, and 32% went to health-related long-term care. Another 27% was spent on durable medical goods, while 9% was spent on non-durable medical goods, such as various medicines, contraception, plasters and first-aid kits.

Health Care System Statistics

21. There are 1,257 hospitals in the UK.

(Interweave Healthcare) (Interweave Healthcare) 

The majority of hospitals (those managed by NHS England Trusts and working private hospitals) in the UK are located in England, i.e. 854 or 68% of all hospitals. 

Scotland follows with 279 facilities, or 22%, while 7%, or 83, are located in Wales. Northern Ireland has 41 hospitals or 3% of the total number. 

As of April 2020, there are 170,548 hospital beds in the UK or one hospital bed per 390 people. 

22. There is one doctor in the UK for every 356 people. 

(IFS) (OECD) (Statista) 

The UK was facing a shortage of medical staff, even before the coronavirus outbreak started. According to older healthcare statistics, the UK has 2.8 doctors per 1,000 population or one doctor for every 356 individuals in the country. 

In 2017 there were around 7.6 thousand patients per GP practice in the UK. 

The nurse-to-patient ratio in 2018 was 7.8 per 1,000 inhabitants.  

23. The UK’s healthcare system is ranked in the 18th position. 

(ID Medical)

ID Medical has created an index ranking OECD countries by metrics such as spending on healthcare, number of hospital beds, doctors and nurses, and life expectancy. Although the average life expectancy in the UK is high and the country has the 13th highest healthcare expenditure, due to the low number of doctors and beds per capita, it is ranked in 18th place.

24. 22% of deaths in 2018 were considered avoidable.  

(The Office for National Statistics)

In 2018, the mortality rate from preventable and treatable causes in the UK was nearly 22%. More specifically, 64% or 88,299 of all avoidable deaths in 2018 were attributed to preventable causes and 49,994 deaths, or 36%, to treatable conditions (49,994 deaths). Even more tragic, 35% of all deaths among children (newborns to 19-year-olds) were considered avoidable. 

25. The UK’s investment in preventive services is the highest in the EU. 

(WHO) 

Special focus has been placed on meeting WHO vaccination requirements. Namely, vaccination for influenza for people aged 65 and over was the highest in the EU at 73%. Furthermore, child vaccination rates were in line with WHO recommendations of a 94% vaccination rate.

26. According to a 2018 survey, 76% describe the NHS as a world-class health service. 

(Statista)  (The Care Quality Commission) 

As many as 90% of GP practises and 65% of NHS acute core services were rated “good”, another 2019 survey on public health reveals. 

Nevertheless, a large number of people who receive care in England believe there is room for improvement. Namely, 4% of GP services and a quarter of the NHS’s core services were rated as “requires improvement”, whereas 1% of GP practises and 2% of core services provided by the NHS were described as “inadequate”.

27. Long waiting times and lack of staff are the most common reasons for dissatisfaction with the health system.

(Statista)

62% of respondents in a Statista survey mentioned lack of staff as the main reason for dissatisfaction with the health system in the UK, while 49% pointed to the shortage of funding to the NHS by the government. 

57% cited long waiting times as the biggest issue with the UK’s health system. Despite the NHS commitment that 95% of patients should be attended to at the A&E within four hours, by 2019, only 80% of patients were seen in the expected time. 

Mental Health Statistics

28. One in four British adults suffers from at least one diagnosable mental issue in a year. 

(NHS) 

NHS mental health statistics further show that mental disorders are the largest cause of disability in the country. 

29. The suicide rate in the UK is higher among men than women. 

(The Office for National Statistics) (ScotPHO) (BBC) (BBC)

Data from the Office of National Statistics shows that in 2019, there were 5,691 suicides registered in England and Wales, 321 more compared to the year before. In Scotland, a total of 833 suicides were recorded, as well as 197 in Northern Ireland. 

Men account for three-quarters of suicide deaths in England and Wales, with the highest suicide rate (25.5 deaths per 100,000 men) registered among males between the ages of 45 and 49. Suicide rates were higher among men in Scotland as well, 620 as opposed to 213. 

Men might be more likely to take their own lives, but women tend to suffer from mental illness more often—one in five women in England report they have had a common mental disorder, compared to one in eight men. 

30. Mixed anxiety and depression are the most common mental health illnesses in the UK.

(Mind)

Affecting around eight in 100 people a week, mixed anxiety and depression are the most common mental health issues, the most recent anxiety statistics from the UK suggest. Generalised anxiety disorder (affecting six in 100 every week) and PTSD (recorded among 4 in 100 people) also rank high on the list, as do phobias (two in 100) and OCD (one in 100). 

31. One in five Brits suffered from some form of depression during the coronavirus pandemic.

(The Office for National Statistics) 

Rising from 9.7% between July 2019 and March 2020, the number of adults suffering from depression has reached 19.2% in June 2020. Depression during the pandemic was most common among 16 to 39-year-olds, women, disabled individuals, as well as those who were not able to afford unexpected expenses. 

32. One in six children aged five to 16 have a probable mental health problem.

(NHS)

This number represents an increase of almost 6% compared to 2017.

Other children’s mental health statistics in the UK show that:

  • Five to 16-year-old children with a probable mental issue were more than twice as likely to come from a household in debt
  • 63.8% of girls between 11 and 16 years old with a probable mental disorder had witnessed an argument among adults in their house, pointing to a connection between divorce and mental health among children
  • Children with a probable mental condition were more likely to say that lockdown has made their life worse.

33. Prescriptions for antidepressants have nearly doubled between 2008 and 2018. 

(BBC)

Pharmaceuticals are still the most common method used to treat mental health issues, with the number of medicines prescribed for anxiety, depression, and panic attacks going up from 36 million in 2008 to 71 million in 2018. 

Child Health Statistics

34. How many babies are born and die every year in the UK?

(The Office for National Statistics) 

There 712,680 live births in the UK in 2019. While the 2019 stillbirth rate was the lowest on record, sadly, child and infant mortality data show an increase in death rates across the UK.

More specifically:

  • There were 2,831 infant deaths registered in 2019. The corresponding infant mortality rate was 4.0 deaths per 1,000 live births, an increase from 3.9 in 2018.
  • The number of deaths registered among children under the age of five was 3,251, resulting in a child mortality rate of 4.6 deaths per 1,000 live births, up from 4.4 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018.
  • There were 2,763 stillbirths, i.e. mortality rate of 3.9 per 1,000 total births, drastically down from the 19.3 stillbirth rate registered in 1961 (when ONS started keeping records).
  • The general fertility rate in the country is declining—in 2019, it was estimated at 56.9 live births per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. 

35. 24% of four to five-year-old British children are overweight. 

(RCPCH) (RCPCH)

Obesity among children in the UK is one of the top health concerns in Britain. As many as 22.6% of English children from 4 to 5  were either overweight, obese, or severely obese,  as were 34.3% of kids aged 10 to 11. 

Obesity is also associated with diabetes. As of 2019, there are 36,000 children living with the condition, an increase from 31,500 recorded just four years ago.  

36. Cancer is the leading cause of child mortality.

(RCPCH)

240 children and young adults died from cancer every year in the UK from 2015 to 2017, with leukaemia, lymphomas and brain cancer being the most common diagnosis among children. 

The good news is that more children with cancer are living longer. According to the most recent stats, three-quarters of kids with cancer in GB survived ten years after they were diagnosed, while 82% survived for five years after the initial diagnosis. 

37. Asthma is the most common long-term health condition among children in the UK.  

(RCPCH) 

The latest data reveal that 1.1 million children are receiving asthma treatment in the UK, making it one of the most common health problems in the UK for children and young people. Reports further show that 46% of the children that died from this condition had received inadequate care, meaning that these deaths could have been prevented with better management and early intervention. 

Coronavirus Statistics in the UK

38. As of April 2021, there are over 4 million coronavirus cases in the UK.

(Worldometer)

The first coronavirus case in the UK was registered in February 2020, and since then, 4,398,431 cases were recorded. 127,345 have died, while 4,171,798 have recovered from the virus, the most recent Covid stats in the UK reveal.

39. Britain has the highest number of Covid-19 deaths in Europe.

(Statista)

As of the week ending April 18 2021, 127,270 of the 1,025,900 deaths in Europe were registered in the United Kingdom, the highest on the Continent. 

40. Planned spending on health services in 2020/2021 is £212.1 billion.

(The King’s Fund)

This sum is an increase from £150.4 billion for the previous financial year and includes over 60 billion extra in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Costs incurred from the Covid-19 outbreak are likely to go up—more than £20 billion have already been allocated to the 2021/2022 budget.

41. More than 32% of the doctors surveyed said they experienced a shortage of medical equipment. 

(Statista)

A third of doctors in high-risk areas stated that they experienced shortages of scrubs, and 30% said they did not have enough disposable gowns. A tenth of doctors also reported they did not feel protected from the virus while at work. 

42. Over 33 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. 

(BBC) (Statista) 

The UK was the first country in the world to approve Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. The vaccination rollout started in December 2020, and since then, more than 30 million have been vaccinated. 

Broken down by country, Covid stats in the UK shows the following:

  • 68% of people in Wales have received the first dose and 25% the second—the highest across the nation. 
  • 63% and 21% of adults in England have received the first and second dose, respectively.
  • 62% of Scotts have gotten the first dose, and 20% have been vaccinated twice. 
  • Northern Ireland is ranked fourth—61% have been vaccinated once and 22% twice. 

Final Thoughts

A good health system means providing every citizen with quality healthcare and medical services. Like other countries in the world, the UK health system faces many challenges, such as falling birth rates, an ageing population and understaffed hospitals, most of which have become even more pronounced since the pandemic started. 

Although not ideal, it is not all bad. As the UK health statistics above point out, life expectancy is increasing, care is free for all and overall access to health services is deemed good. Hopefully, as more awareness is raised over the major health risks, the situation will undoubtedly improve.

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