The NHS has come second in a study of the health services of seven leading industrialised countries.
The UK was ranked behind Holland, but ahead of Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, which came last.
The NHS was found to be the most efficient health service. This was measured by working out the total national expenditure on health as a percentage of gross domestic product.
The report by the Commonwealth Fund said the UK also scored well on the quality of care and access to care, but was bottom of the list when it came to quality of life.
More than 27,000 patients and primary care doctors were surveyed across all seven countries over the last three years for the study. Other criteria included safe care, timeliness of care, and equity – or access regardless of social circumstances.
The report also said the UK outperformed the other countries on six of the 10 chronic care management indicators, suggesting it may be down to “the major push made by the UK government to implement health information technology”.
In relation to healthcare access, it found: “The UK has relatively short waiting times for basic medical care and non-emergency access to services after hours, but has longer waiting times for specialist care and elective, non-emergency surgery.”
However, Britain came last when measured for life expectancy at age 60. The UK’s was 22.5 years, well behind leading nation Australia with 24.6 years.
“The US and UK had much higher death rates in 2003 from conditions amenable to medical care than some of the other countries, for example rates 25% to 50% higher than Canada and Australia,” the report said.
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