UK healthcare spend continued to rise in 2012, increasing by almost 2%.

The total amount that the UK spent on healthcare reached £144.5bn in 2012, a 1.9% increase on the previous year, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Public healthcare made up the largest portion of this with 84%, or £121.3bn, being spent by the government. This was an average annual rise of 1.9% in public healthcare spending, whilst private healthcare accounted for £23.2bn, which has been decreasing slightly, by 0.1% on average, since 2009.

The ONS said: "There are many reasons why healthcare spending is so high and why in the UK there has been continual growth over recent years. For instance, the population of the UK is ageing and older people need more treatment, also new drugs and technologies are expensive to research and develop."

Healthcare spending stood at £2,268 per person in 2012, but the growth rate of spending per capita dropped considerably when the recession struck.

Although there was a delay from the economic crisis to hit healthcare spending per person, it became evident in 2010 when the rate in which it increased from the turn of the decade to 2012 had an average rate of 0.8%. The three years prior to this, the average growth rate was 6.36%.

The repercussions of the economic crisis were also evident in overall spending on healthcare. From 1997 to 2009, the total spend on healthcare rose by 8% per year on average, since then it has been rising by 1.6%.

Despite the UK being hailed by other countries for the NHS, total healthcare expenditure as a share of GDP in Britain 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.

"Overall, healthcare represented around a third of government spending today. However, compared with the rest of the G7 countries, UK healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP is actually relatively low at 9.2%," the ONS said.