How does the English NHS compare with other systems?

Comparing health systems across national borders is difficult.  Healthcare is a complex business.  Definitions and practises vary from place to place.

For example – if you diagnose people with cancer earlier, by a screening programme, the recorded proportion of the population with cancer will be higher, and the number who survive for five years will also be greater, than in a country where people are only diagnosed when they present with symptoms, even if the treatment has exactly the same effect.

The NHS: excellence and efficiency material collected by the excellent Dr Tomlinson

International comparisons produced recently by the US-based Commonwealth Fund, found that the NHS is the most efficient health system and the most equitable.The most recent British Social Attitudes survey revealed that satisfaction with the NHS hit an all-time high in 2009.The government compares the NHS record on heart disease unfavourably to France, but Professor John Appleby of the King’s Fund points out that in recent times the UK had the largest fall in death rates from heart disease of any European country and that on current trends, the NHS will have a lower death rate than France as soon as next year. The government is also twisting the facts in its desire to paint NHS performance on cancer as a reason for its plans: death rates for lung cancer in men are now lower than in France, and the improvement in death rates for breast cancer means the NHS can expect have lower rates than France in just a few years. Of course the NHS always needs to improve, but all the evidence shows that it has improved dramatically since 2000: for example, statistics collected by the Office for National Statistics last year demonstrate improvements in five-year survival rates for nearly all cancers for the NHS.


What’s Good about the NHS  Produced by the NHS Consultants Association about 1980