Britain has one of the best healthcare systems in the world, according to results of an international survey published this week. The Commonwealth Fund survey consistently ranks the NHS highly on a range of measures looking at how health systems deal with people with chronic and serious illness.
It finds people in Britain have among the fastest access to GPs, the best co-ordinated care, and suffer from the among the fewest medical errors, of 11 high income countries surveyed.
The countries examined were: the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Britain and Switzerland were consistently among the best performers, found the analysis of answers from over 18,000 adults with chronic and serious illness.
For example, the Washington DC based organisation reported: “UK and Swiss patients reported more positive health care experiences than sicker adults in the other countries: they were more likely to be able to get a same- or next-day appointment when sick and to have easy access to after-hours care, and they were less likely to experience poorly coordinated care.”
The success of the NHS stands out despite the fact that per capita health spending in the UK is the third lowest of the 11, at £2,170 per head, compared with £3,200 in Switzerland and £4,950 in the US.
The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation which claims to support “independent research on health policy reform”.
However, it is widely seen in the US as being strongly in favour of President Obama’s health reforms.
Today’s report is highly critical of current US healthcare. Karen Davis, its president, says the country “practically stands alone when it comes to people with illness or chronic conditions having difficulty affording health care and paying medical bills”.
A spokesman for the Royal College of General Practitioners said the survey “shows yet again that the excellent work carried out by GPs in the UK is recognised worldwide, leading the field in ease of access, coordinated care and good patient doctor relationships”.
He added: “If the current reform of the NHS is to achieve anything, it must preserve and build on the strengths of general practice by producing more GPs, who are trained for longer so that they can do even more to improve the health of their patients.