The United Kingdom is known for its iconic landmarks, royal family, and its world-renowned healthcare system. But one of the UK’s best-kept secrets is its healthcare is costly. Whether it’s dental care, GP visits, or prescriptions, the cost of healthcare in the UK can be astronomical.
But what exactly is the reason behind this? We’ve compiled a list of the top four reasons healthcare in the UK is so expensive.
The current population of the UK is 68,653,235. It has massively increased from 59,597,300 recorded in March 2021, with immigration one of the main contributing factors. The population is projected to grow further by nine million by 2041. This rapid population growth is one of the main reasons healthcare in the UK is so expensive. When there are more people, there is more demand for healthcare. And we all know the prices surge with increasing demand. So, whether it’s routine GP visits or life-saving treatments, the costs go up when the population does.
An Ageing Population
The UK population is also getting older. It is estimated that during the 2021-2022 period, the population aged 65 years and above will total 12.7 million. It is an increase of around one million people from 2016. And with such an ageing population comes an increase in health problems. Age-related health conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease are all incredibly expensive to treat since they are more resource-intensive. It is a massive burden on the already overstretched NHS.
Rising Costs of Technology
Technology is constantly changing and evolving, and it’s no different in healthcare. New medical treatments and procedures are continually being developed, and the associated costs are always rising. For example, an MRI scan costs between £299 – £350 for one part of the body. But if you need a full-body MRI, it will cost you £700 – £800.
Similarly, other medical treatments like chemotherapy, dialysis, and even X-rays are becoming increasingly expensive. The costs associated with these procedures are often passed on to the patient through higher healthcare costs. Advancements like a nurse call system or an online GP booking system can help to reduce waiting times and improve the overall patient experience. But, they all add up and come with a hefty running cost.
Lack of GPs
The lack of GPs (General Physicians) in the UK is a leading cause of high healthcare costs. In England alone, there is a shortfall of around 3000 GPs. This number is only going to increase as the population continues to grow. The lack of GPs means that patients have to wait longer for appointments. And when they finally see a GP, the consultation time is often shorter. It results in many patients feeling rushed and not getting the care they need.
So, what can be done to reduce the cost of healthcare in the UK? Maybe the answer is more funding and structure from the government. It’s a complex issue, and there is no easy answer. But one thing is for sure – innovations that ease the strain on the NHS are crucial.