The Department of Health (DH) has defended itself after a survey highlighted the difficulties that British patients have in seeing GPs out of hours.
The study, which was carried out by the Health Foundation think tank, also revealed that people in the UK face longer waits for nonemergency surgery than those in some other western countries.
Some 55% of UK patients said they had problems getting access to GP care on weekends and nights.
This was worse than Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand, the report said.
The UK was also said to have the worst record for waiting times, with 15% having to wait for more than six months for elective treatment, it added.
Canada was next worst with 14% and the Netherlands the best with 2%.
But a Department of Health spokesperson said: “Over the last 10 years there has been record investment in the NHS, with over £90bn being spent this year, which will rise to £110bn by 2010-11.
“That money is paying for more staff and better pay, one million more operations a year, over 100 new hospitals and improved access to healthcare for millions of people. Ninety-two percent of patients rate their experience as good or excellent.
“Delivering the highest quality of care for all, as good or better than any country in the world, must be a fundamental goal of the NHS.”
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