Britain spends a lower proportion of its economic output on health services than most of the G7 countries, a new report has revealed.
Between 1997 and 2012, t otal UK healthcare expenditure as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) measured amongst the lowest of the G7 countries, with only Italy spending less as a share of their GDP, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found.
Spending for health services "slowed significantly" between 2009 and 2012, the ONS said.
The ONS said that growth of healthcare between 1997 and 2009 was "strong" with an average annual growth rate of 8%.
But since 2009 growth slowed to an average of 1.6% each year, the ONS said.
In 2012 total health expenditure in the UK was £144.5 billion.
The report states: "The main driver for the global increase in healthcare expenditure as a proportion of GDP in 2009 was that, following the global financial crisis, GDP in each of the G7 countries fell significantly.
"Total healthcare expenditure as a share of GDP was measured amongst the lowest of the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, USA) with only Italy spending less as a share of their GDP across the series."
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "By taking difficult financial decisions, we have been able to increase that NHS budget in real terms, with public healthcare expenditure experiencing its biggest increase since 2010.
"With an ageing population the NHS is dealing with more people than ever before, lots of whom need long-term, round-the-clock care from dedicated health professionals, and to meet that rise in demand, the NHS must continue to become more efficient while ensuring compassionate care for all in the wake of the Francis Inquiry."