Mon Aug 8th, 2011 at 08:35:54 AM EST
The quoted article below is about a study that tells an unpopular story about the British NHS. It's a story of relative success.
No system is perfect and there are many specific areas in which UK health services fall down. For example:
- Mental health treatment - underfunded and really patchy quality across the country.
- Treatment of ligament/tendon problems - there's a bias towards physiotherapy and against doing operations for these injuries in the UK. It's one of the places where the rationing may be considered to bite in comparison with other countries (esp. in Europe.)
Still, the crucial element of the study is that in lots of tangible ways, the NHS provides a good service - absolutely comparable with other developed countries around the world - and spends less than many of the them. One can question whether the metrics used in the report prove one system is better than another, but it's clear in my opinion that the claims of NHS inferiority aren't backed up by the figures.
This is not the story you'll read in UK government briefing documents, or in many of the press reports. The right wing agenda is to break up the integrated, national service and bring in marketisation and competition. Their claimed basis for this is "improved efficiency" - this report reminds us that it is more about funnelling government expenditure into private companies...
I'd encourage you to read the whole thing.
NHS among developed world's most efficient health systems, says study | Society | The Guardian
The NHS is one of the most cost-effective health systems in the developed world, according to a study (pdf) published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.
The "surprising" findings show the NHS saving more lives for each pound spent as a proportion of national wealth than any other country apart from Ireland over 25 years. Among the 17 countries considered, the United States healthcare system was among the least efficient and effective.
Researchers said that this contradicted assertions by the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, that the NHS needed competition and choice to become more efficient.
"The government proposals to change the NHS are largely based on the idea that the NHS is less efficient and effective than other countries, especially the US," said Professor Colin Pritchard, of Bournemouth University, who analysed a quarter of a century's data from 1980.
"The results question why we need a big set of health reform proposals ... The system works well. Look at the US and you can see where choice and competition gets you. Pretty dismal results."
Using the latest data from the World Health Organisation, the paper shows that although Labour's tax-and-spend strategy for the NHS saw health spending rise to a record 9.3% of GDP, this was less than Germany with 10.7% or the US with 15%.
Not only was the UK cheaper, says the paper, it saved more lives. The NHS reduced the number of adult deaths a million of the population by 3,951 a year - far better than the nearest comparable European countries. France managed 2,779 lives a year and Germany 2,395.