Health in the UK: Facts and statistics

How healthy is the UK? We dived into all the latest stats to give you the figures on life expectancy, alcohol consumption, obesity and more.

Health is a topic that’s always on the news in the UK, whether it is about the current status of the NHS, how healthy the nation is or the latest medical breakthroughs. We gave the UK a health check by diving into the latest statistics for obesity, life expectancy, alcohol consumption and more. See all the statistics below, skip to a section using the quick links box or learn more about private health insurance.

General health in the UK

  • Life expectancy: 80.21 years on average (2020). Males can expect to live up to 78.27 years and females to 82.15 years.
  • Healthy life expectancy: The age up to which people can expect to live healthily is 62.8 for men and 63.6 for women.
  • UK health spending: £257.6 billion was spent on health care by the government in 2020. This means that £3,840 was spent per person.
  • Fertility rate: The UK’s fertility rate is 1.7, which can be compared to the EU’s average of 1.6. The perfect fertility rate is 2.1, which is when each generation replaces itself.
  • Deaths: In 2021, there were 568,334 deaths in the UK. This is a 3.6% decrease from 2020, where there were 607,922 registered deaths.
  • Alcohol: 57% of adults (aged 16+) in the UK drink alcohol.
  • Smoking: 14.5% of adults (aged 18+) in the UK smoke daily.
  • Obesity: 68% of adult males and 60% of adult females were overweight or obese in the UK.

The number of hospital beds available in the UK

In 2021, there were approximately 157,800 hospital beds available per night in the UK. This figure has been declining since 2000, when there were around 240,000 hospital beds available per night, which is 34% fewer beds compared to the year 2000.

Year Available hospital beds
2000 240,144
2001 238,641
2002 236,205
2003 235,512
2004 231,399
2005 224,882
2006 215,513
2007 207,789
2008 205,976
2009 203,326
2010* 183,831
2011 181,972
2012 178,841
2013 176,791
2014 176,324
2015 169,995
2016 168,934
2017 167,589
2018 165,844
2019 163,873
2020 162,723
2021 157,804

Are Brits happy with the National Health Service (NHS)?

According to the annual BSA survey, over 4 in 10 of Brits (43%) are unhappy with how the NHS is currently being run. The survey suggests that this is the first time since 2002 where more people in the UK are unhappy with the NHS than happy.

Response Percentage
Very or quite satisfied 36%
Dissatisfied 41%
Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied 23%

Life expectancy in the UK 2022

In the UK, life expectancy was 80.21 years for 2018–2020, with females having a longer life expectancy of 82.15 years compared to males of 78.27. Life expectancy has increased by 1.16% from 2018–2020 compared to 10 years previous in 2008–2010.

Out of the UK nations, England has the highest life expectancy at 81.23 years, followed by Northern Ireland (80.52 years), Wales (80.19 years) and lastly Scotland (78.90 years), the only nation with a life expectancy less than 80 years.

Explore the table below to see how life expectancy has changed from 2008–2010 to 2018–2020 and how this differs between the UK nations and gender.

Total average Male life expectancy 2018–2020 Male life expectancy 2008–2010 Male change since 2008–2010 Female life expectancy 2018–2020 Female life expectancy 2008–2010 Female change since 2008–2010
United Kingdom 80.21 years 78.27 years 77.15 years 1.45% 82.15 years 81.44 years 0.88%
England 81.2 years 79.33 years 78.31 years 1.30% 83.12 years 82.33 years 0.96%
Scotland 78.90 years 76.79 years 75.8 years 1.31% 81.01 years 80.32 years 0.86%
Wales 80.19 years 78.29 years 77.51 years 1.01% 82.09 years 81.66 years 0.53%
Northern Ireland 80.52 years 78.65 years 76.97 years 2.18% 82.38 years 81.43 years 1.17%

Death statistics in the UK

There were over 568,334 deaths in the UK in 2021, a decrease of 3.6% from 2020 (607,922).

Top causes of death in the England and Wales (2021)

  1. Coronavirus: 11.5% of all deaths registered were due to COVID-19. In total, 67,350 deaths were reported due to the virus over 2021.
  2. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: 61,250 deaths (10.4%).
  3. Ischaemic heart disease: 56,960 deaths (9.7%).
  4. Cerebrovascular disease: 29,041 deaths (5%).
  5. Malignant neoplasm of trachea bronchus and lung: 28,190 deaths (4.8%).
Reason for death Total amount Percentage of total deaths
COVID-19 67,350 11.5
Dementia and Alzheimer's disease 61,250 10.4
Ischaemic heart diseases 56,960 9.7
Cerebrovascular diseases 29,041 5
Malignant neoplasm of trachea bronchus and lung 28,190 4.8

Mental health statistics in the UK

  • There were 5,583 suicides in England and Wales in 2021, with a death rate of 10.7 per 100,000 people.
  • 1 in 6 people experience a common mental health problem.
  • 1 in 5 women are reported to have mental health problems.
  • 1 in 8 men are reported to have mental health problems.
  • Alcohol consumption in the UK

  • There were 280,000 estimated alcohol-attributed hospital admissions in 2019/20.
  • Alcohol-related admissions make up 1.6% of all hospital admissions in 2020.
  • Over two-thirds of patients admitted to hospital attributed to alcohol were male (65%).
  • Most recent survey suggested that 57% of Brits drink alcohol, this would mean 38 million people in the UK drink in 2022.
  • UK adults who drink alcohol Percentage
    Drinks alcohol 57%
    Does not drink alcohol 43%

    How many Brits smoke daily?

    We looked at the latest statistics to see how many adults (aged 18+) are smoking daily in the UK compared to other countries around the world.

    14.5% of the adult population smokes daily, which means the UK ranks 29th out of 30 countries compared to their smoking habits.

    The country with the lowest percentage of smokers is Iceland where 7.2% of people smoke on a daily basis. The country with the highest percentage of daily smokers is Indonesia, where almost 1 in 3 adults (32.6%) smoke daily.

    Country Percentage
    Indonesia 32.6
    Türkiye 28
    Russia 25.8
    France 25.5
    China (People's Republic of) 25.3
    Greece 24.9
    Hungary 24.9
    Argentina 24
    Latvia 22.6
    Slovak Republic 21
    Austria 20.6
    South Africa 20.2
    Spain 19.8
    Luxembourg 19.2
    Switzerland 19.1
    Lithuania 18.9
    Germany 18.8
    Italy 18.8
    Estonia 17.9
    Chile 17.6
    Slovenia 17.4
    Poland 17.1
    Japan 16.7
    Czech Republic 16.6
    Israel 16.4
    Ireland 16
    Korea 15.9
    Belgium 15.4
    United Kingdom 14.5
    Netherlands 14.4

    What percentage of the UK is obese?

  • 10,780 hospital admissions directly attributable to obesity.
  • 64% of UK adults are overweight or obese in 2020.
  • 68% of men and 60% of women are classified as overweight or obese.
  • 67% of adults are considered active as per government guidelines.
  • 441,000 workers sustained a non-fatal injury at work in 2020/21, up from 581,000 in 2018/19 and 28% less than in 2017/18 (621,000).
  • 142 deaths were recorded from work-related accidents in 2020/21, this is 31 more deaths than in 2019/20 but 5 fewer deaths from 2017/18.
  • 1.7 million workers suffered from work-related ill health (new or long-standing) in 2020/21.
  • 800,000 workers suffer from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2020/21.
  • 650,000 workers had a work-related illness that was caused or made worse by the effects of COVID-19.
  • The cost of health insurance

    Around 13% of the UK population has some kind of health insurance, and, in general, Brits spent £6 billion on voluntary health insurance in 2017, which was around 3% of overall spending on health care in the UK. We looked into the consumer price index (CPI) of health insurance to find out how much inflation is impacting the cost of health insurance in the UK. Using 2015 as a base year, we can see that health insurance cost 21% more in 2019 than it did in 2015 and 5% more than in 2018. Explore the table and graphic below to find out more.

    The CPI of health insurance, 2003–2019

    1. ONS
    2. WHO
    3. HSE
    4. OECD
    5. NHS Digital
    6. Eurostat Database
    7. John Hopkins

    Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

    Matt Mckenna
    UK communications manager
    T: +44 20 8191 8806

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