The Big Picture – Stats and Facts

UK demographics and workforce statistics can help demonstrate the facts behind equality and diversity issues across the UK and within the NHS.


  • There are 10.3 million people aged over 65 in the UK today – this will rise to 12.5 million by 2020.
  • There are 1.4 million people aged over 85 in the UK today – there will be 250,000 aged over 100 by 2050.
  • One in four children born today will live to the age of 100.
  • There are over 400,000 elderly people living in care homes and 750,000 suffering with dementia.
  • The NHS has an ageing workforce – 47 per cent of the non-medical workforce and 57 per cent of GPs are aged 45 or over.


  • One in eight UK employees has a disability.
  • There are over 11 million people with a limiting long-term illness, impairment or disability in the UK.
  • The prevalence of disability rises with age. Around 6 per cent of children are disabled, compared to 15 per cent of working age adults and 45 per cent of adults over State Pension age in the UK.
  • 12 per cent of the NHS workforce reports a disability, compared to 9.5 per cent of the general workforce.
  • People with mental health problems have much higher rates of physical illness, with a range of factors contributing to greater prevalence of, and premature mortality from, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, infections and respiratory disease.
  • Disabled people are significantly more likely to experience unfair treatment at work than non-disabled people. In 2008, 19 per cent of disabled people experienced unfair treatment at work compared to 13 per cent of non-disabled people.
  • In the 2012 NHS Staff Survey, 32 per cent of disabled staff reported harassment or bullying from their manager or team leader compared to 20 per cent of non-disabled staff.


  • In 2011, one in five people (20 per cent) identified with an ethnic group other than White British, compared with 13 per cent in 2001.
  • The population with ethnic background other than White (White British, White Irish and White Other) has doubled in size since 1991 from 3 to 7 million, while remaining a minority of the total population (14 per cent).
  • In the 2012 NHS Staff Survey, 15 per cent of non-white staff did not believe that there is equality of opportunity within their organisations, compared with 7 per cent of white staff.
  • Asian and BME staff are more likely to recommend their employer as a good place to work than white staff, but are still under-represented at senior management levels.


  • NHS Workforce data shows that the proportion of females to males within the overall healthcare workforce is 78 per cent to 22 per cent respectively
  • Females are proportionally under-represented at senior levels relative to their overall presence in the workforce.
  • While women make up about 77 per cent of the NHS workforce, just over 30 per cent of NHS chief executives are women.
  • The 2010 National Audit of Cardiac Rehabilitation (NACR) demonstrated that women are under-represented in cardiac rehabilitation. If men and women were taking part in proportion to the case rates for heart attack, we would expect there to be 63 per cent men and 37 per cent women. In practice, women made up 32 per cent of referrals but only 26 per cent of participants. It is mainly older women who are under-represented in cardiac rehabilitation; women over the age of 80 are less likely to take part than men of the same age.

Gender Reassignment:

  • Research shows that transgender people are likely to have inadequate or inappropriate access to services.
  • Transgender medical students report that they are more likely to experience discrimination and harassment from patients and from colleagues.
  • There is increasing recognition of the rights of transsexual and transgender service users and employees in the NHS, with the Gender Recognition Act granting legal recognition of a changed gender for transsexual people.

Religion or Belief:

  • In the 2011 Census, the number of residents who stated that their religion was Christian was fewer than in 2001.
  • The size of this group decreased 13 percentage points to 59 per cent (33.2 million) in 2011 from 72 per cent (37.3 million) in 2001.
  • Research suggests that poor knowledge and skills of staff in providing health services to people with non-Christian religions or beliefs can have an adverse affect on the patient experience.

Sexual Orientation:

  • A third of gay and bisexual men who have access to healthcare services have had a negative experience related to their sexual orientation, according to Stonewall.
  • Prescription for change, a survey carried out by Stonewall, found 50 per cent of lesbian women under 20 years had self-harmed, compared to one in 15 women nationally. Half of the respondents also stated that they had not discussed their sexuality with their GP.
  • Statistics from Stonewall show that 50 per cent of lesbian and bisexual women have had negative experiences of the NHS.
  • 3 per cent of gay men attempt to take their own life, compared to 0.4 per cent of the general male population.
  • 41 per cent of lesbian, gay and bisexual people over the age of 55 currently live alone.

Maternity and Pregnancy:

  • A report published in March 2013 – of 1,000 women conducted by law firm Slater & Gordon – showed that one in seven of the women surveyed had lost their job while on maternity leave;
  • 40 per cent said their jobs had changed by the time they returned, with half reporting a cut in hours or demotion.
  • More than a tenth had been replaced in their jobs by the person who had covered their maternity leave.