The Cost of Health Inequality to the NHS in Wales

Public Health Wales has launched its first report on the ‘Cost of Health Inequality to the NHS in Wales’ focusing on the ‘Cost Associated with Inequalities in Hospital Service Utilisation to the NHS in Wales’.

The report estimates the cost associated with inequality in hospital service use to the NHS in Wales to help inform decision-making and investment prioritisation towards prevention and early intervention through an equity lens. Together with further reports over 2022-25, we hope to help build the economic evidence to help address health inequalities in Wales, many of which have been exacerbated through the Coronavirus pandemic.

Key findings from the report indicate:

  • Deprivation translates into an additional annual hospital service use cost of £322 million (2018-19), representing 8.7% of the total hospital expenses to the NHS in Wales
  • Working-age people (16–64 years old) experience the highest cost associated with health inequality for all types of hospital service use, except for elective inpatient admissions
  • Cost associated with health inequality vary considerably by age groups and service category, but there is no significant difference between men and women
  • Emergency inpatient admissions drive the highest cost associated with hospital service use inequality (£247.4 million), while the lowest cost is identified in maternity admissions (£1.8 million)
  • Financial cost associated with inequality is largely driven by disparities in hospital service utilisation across deprivation quintiles; however, in some cases cost variation cannot be explained by service use only

The report looking at different hospital services, says preventative action targeted at improving the health equity between advantaged and disadvantaged communities could help reduce a £322 million healthcare gap, especially in emergency admissions and Accident and Emergency attendance.

Full report: Cost of Health Inequality to the NHS in Wales. Report 1: Cost Associated with Inequality in Hospital Service Utilisation – World Health Organization Collaborating Centre On Investment for Health and Well-being (

Press release: Tackling inequality could save hospitals in Wales £322 million every year – Public Health Wales (

Governmental / Institutional / Public Health Statutory Body Document, Organisations & Initiatives Working on Health Inequalities
Health systems and services, primary health care, integrated systems, prevention services, health workforce
United Kingdom

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