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NHS second in global health service report

The NHS has come second for overall rankings in a report analysing the health services of seven industrialised nations

The NHS has come second for overall rankings in a report analysing the health services of seven industrialised nations.

The report, which compared the healthcare on offer in Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the US and the UK, was carried out by the Commonwealth Fund – a US-based private foundation that aims to promote high performance in healthcare systems.

Five areas were covered by the study, comprising quality of care, access to care, efficiency, equity and length/ productivity of life. Nearly 21,000 patients were surveyed in the report, as well as 6,570 care physicians.

The Netherlands came top of overall rankings, while the US – which has the most costly healthcare system of the countries involved – came bottom.

There is still "room for improvement" for all nations involved however, claimed the report.

The UK topped the efficiency of care category, which looked at such measures as total expenditure on health as part of gross domestic product (GDP); the amount of medical related paperwork a patient has to deal with; and the amount spent on administration and insurance compared to the overall health budget.

The UK also did well in access and equity, coming second in both cases.

However, in terms of patient-centred care – a sub-category of quality care, including communication and engagement with healthcare professionals – the NHS was ranked last. The service's performance in length/productivity of life was also poor, ranking sixth.

Discussing the poor performance of the US, which came in the bottom two in each category, the report's executive summary stated: "The most notable way the US differs from other countries is the absence of universal health insurance coverage. Health reform legislation recently signed into law by President Barack Obama should begin to improve the affordability of insurance and access to care when fully implemented in 2014."

The study's authors also said: "These results indicate a consistent relationship between how a country performs in terms of equity and how patients then rate performance on other dimensions of quality: the lower the performance score for equity, the lower the performance on other measures. This suggests that, when a country fails to meet the needs of the most vulnerable, it also fails to meet the needs of the average citizen."

23rd June 2010

From: Healthcare

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