5 Apr 2015

Britain's health service: the best in the world?

So far, so predictable. One week of the formal election campaign underway and one key political football emerges, as so often before, the NHS.

To hear the parties bicker – particularly Labour and the Conservatives, Britain’s health service is all but on its last legs.

Today a simple report fell into my hands. It is a comparative survey of the health systems in eleven developed countries – The UK, US, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand, Netherlands, Germany, France Canada, and Australia. It is an amazing read.

Funded and carried out by the independent Commonwealth Fund, based in New York, Britain’s health service comes out top in nine of the researched categories, 2nd in one, and 3rd in another. It also come out significantly cheaper than any of the others surveyed. The work was carried out in 2014.

Exhibit_ES1Read the report here: how the US health care system compares internationally

Now, it’s important to recognise that this research was not designed to make other countries look good. It had a very US focused approach which was to measure America’s appalling outcomes compared with the rest of those countries surveyed. It was by happenchance that Britain came out top.

However, there is one worrying finding. Our NHS is the best in the world, until you come to the segment identified as ‘Healthy Lives’. Here the UK comes second to bottom. I have contacted the researchers to find out how a country with the best health service in world, boasts such ‘unhealthy lives’. When I have their answer… I shall follow this Snowblog up with a sequel.

In the meantime, might it perhaps be a good idea for some British politician somewhere to praise the ‘best health service in the world’ and see how we can make it yet better, without damaging the incredible services currently offered free at the point of delivery?

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