The NHS is significantly underperforming in many key healthcare outcomes, according to an independent report by the King’s Fund ahead of the 75th anniversary of the NHS next week.
The report compared the healthcare systems of 19 countries, including France, Japan and the USA. Findings revealed that people in the UK have a higher chance of dying from treatable diseases, such as heart attack and stroke, and below average cancer survival rates.
The report also found the UK has worryingly low levels of key clinical staff and a reliance on international staff.
However, the NHS offers good protection from the costs of ill health and is one of the most efficiently run healthcare systems: it spends only 1.9% of its budget on administration and keeps medicine costs low.
Other findings included:
- The UK has among the lowest levels of life expectancy for men and women.
- The UK has relatively few hospital beds at just 2.5 beds per 1000 people compared to an average of 3.2.
- Per 1000 people, the UK has just three doctors, while countries such as Greece have 6.3.
- Few people in the UK have skipped seeking medical care due to cost, and only one in 10 think treatment costs are a problem.
- Waiting times in the UK for common procedures were ‘middle of the pack’ compared to similar countries.
The report also found that the main solution for a country is to reform and improve its existing model of healthcare rather than adopt an alternative model.
Siva Anandaciva, Chief Analyst at The King’s Fund and author report, commented: ‘While the UK stands out in removing most financial barriers to accessing health care and the NHS is run relatively efficiently, it trails behind its international cousins on some key markers of a good healthcare system.’
He concluded: ‘This leaves the NHS delivering performance that is middling at best and the UK must do much more.’ While highlighting that it’s about ‘working to improve our existing health system’, which means the right resources, political support and long-term planning.
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