05/07/2017 13:19 BST

NHS Birthday: 5 Mind-Blowing Facts About The National Health Service

1) It’s the fifth largest employer in the world

Today marks the 69th birthday of the great British institution, the National Health Service (NHS).

In honour of this milestone here are 5 facts that demonstrate just how unbelievably massive our health service actually is.

1) It’s The Fifth Largest Employer In The World

sturti via Getty Images
Nurses make up 30% of the workforce.

Despite the UK being so much smaller than many other developed nations the NHS employs a staff similar in size to organisations in far larger countries such as the USA, India and China.

The latest comparable figures from 2015 show there were a whopping 1.7 million NHS workers across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland or 1 in 20 British workers.

This puts it just behind McDonalds (1.9 million) and Walmart (2.3 million).

Out in front are the US Department of Defense (3.2 million) and China’s People’s Liberation Army (3.2 million).

2) It Will Spend £4,677 Every Second This Year

sturti via Getty Images
Yes, that is a surprising amount

The NHS budget for the 2017/18 financial year is £147.5 billion. 

This works out as £2,264 per Brit which may sound a lot but is a fairly paltry amount when you take into account the cost of some procedures.

Obviously this is set off against the fact that (barring a country-wide armageddon) not everyone will use the NHS during this period.

The Guardian created this nifty tool which lets you calculate how much you have cost the NHS.

3) The Most Expensive Treatment Costs Up To £10 Million Per Patient 


Eculizumab, also known as Soliris, is a drug used to treat an ultra-rare blood disorder called atypical haemolytic uraemic syndrome (aHUS) which is sometimes fatal and often leads to a lifetime of kidney dialysis even with other treatments.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) which recommends which drugs should and should not be offered by the NHS, justified the expenditure as it can extend the lives of those affected by up to 25 years.

Eculizumab costs £340,000 cost per patient to the NHS each year, or around £10 million over the total treatment.

The high costs are charged by pharmaceutical companies as they have to recoup the costs of research from a small number of patients. 

4) The Most Expensive Non-Specialised Treatment Costs £24,000 Per Patient

BasPhoto via Getty Images
The last place you want to visit

Medicines for ultra-rare conditions aside, treating someone with the most severe level of multiple trauma, as a result of a traffic accident for example, costs £24,000.

Other expensive procedures include, treating tuberculosis (£16,213), a coronary artery bypass (£10,037).

5) It Treats A Lot Of People

MartinPrescott via Getty Images
A very happy GP

From Reuters FACTBOX:

  1. Staff across the NHS are in contact with more than 1.5 million patients and their families every single day.
  2. Around 23 million people visit their GP or practice nurse every month.
  3. Full-time GPs, or doctors, treat an average of 255 patients a week.
  4. NHS chiropodists inspect more than 150,000 pairs of feet every week. 
  5. In 2014/15 there were 9 million 999 emergency calls made.
  6. NHS Direct, the telephone advice line, receives around 20 calls a minute.

 And Finally...

Despite funding pressures it works.

Both men and women live an average of 10 years longer than they did before the creation of the NHS in 1948.