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National markets insights: United Kingdom


United Kingdom
Healthcare system & market 



The UK healthcare system, the National Health Service (NHS) came into existence in 1948, in the aftermath of the Second World War. It was founded under the principles of universality, free at the point of use, equity and funded from central taxation. Despite numerous political and organisational changes to the NHS since then, it remains a service available universally that cared for people on the basis of need and not ability to pay, and which if funded from taxation (predominantly in the form of the British National Insurance contribution).

Since 'devolution' in 1999, healthcare and healthcare policy across the UK has been the responsibility of the Union's constitutent countries (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), with the exception of England, where the lack of any devolved authorities means policy remains the preserve of central UK government. This is in the process of change, with English devolution (with a considerable emphasis on healthcare) currently being trialled in the country's Greater Manchester region. Should the trial prove a success it is likely that the UK Government will seek to implement devolved authority to other regions throughout England, however notwithtanding the Manchester trial, throughout the UK the NHS has its own distinct structure and organisation in each of the countries.

The size of the NHS as a potential market should not be underestimated: It is the largest employer in the UK, with over 1.6 million core staff members and a total planned budget of £116.4 billion for 2015/16. A recent Commonwealth Fund report highlighted that the NHS in England alone deals with over 1 million patients every 36 hours.


NHS Constitution

NHS Business Plan

NHS Five Year Forward View

Innovation Health and Wealth

Creating Change - Innovation Health and Wealth '1 Year On'

Integrated Care in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales



Guide healthcare system in England

WHO_UK Health system review

Interoperability Handbook - NHS England 2015 



WHO_Scotland Health System review

eHealth strategy Scotland 2011-2017

Digital Healthcare in Scotland

NHS24 Telehealth 2020 vision

Integration of Adult health & social care in Scotland

Northern Ireland

WHO_Northern Ireland Health review

Northern Ireland eHealth Strategy 2020

UK ECHAlliance Ecosystems


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