Lies, damn lies and statistics …

According to Treasury forecasts, NHS spending by 2007 is set to reach £107bn per annum or some £4,500 per UK household on average.

The joke used to be that the NHS was the largest employer in Europe outside the USSR’s Red Army. With the demise of the USSR, it might now be said that the NHS is the largest employer in the world outside the Chinese Army.

More interestingly, perhaps, is to imagine that the NHS is an economy in its own right (NHS Land) with GDP set to reach £107bn by 2007, and try to assess where it would rank (by 2007) in terms of the size of the 174 different economies listed in the current edition of the book Economist Pocket World in Figures. Assuming that these 174 economies grow at around 6% in cash terms between now and 2007, then by 2007 NHSLand will be larger than all but 33 of these 174 economies. This would tend to support the argument for NHS decentralisation.

  • Maurice Fitzpatrick, head of economics at Numerica Business Service.

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