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Report lays bare “troubling differences” in UK healthcare

20 January 2010

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“Striking and troubling differences” exist between healthcare services in the four countries of the UK, according to a new report.

The Nuffield Trust investigated health provision in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The body – an independent charity that carries out research into health services – found Scotland had the highest rate of spending on the NHS, as well as the highest rates of hospital doctors, GPs and nurses per person.

But Scotland also had the highest levels of poor health.

In contrast, the report found the NHS in England spent less, had fewer health staff per head of population, but made better use of its resources with higher activity levels.

The report highlighted some of the differences in health policy between the four countries, with Scotland having brought in free personal care while prescription charges have been abolished in Wales.

It also said that health services across the UK had enjoyed “massive increases in funding” in the years following devolution in 1999.

But it warned that this “feast” in funding was now likely to be followed by a period of “famine”.

The report stated: “In 2006, Scotland had the highest levels of poor health, the highest rates of expenditure, the highest rates of hospital doctors, GPs and nurses, and yet the lowest rates of inpatient admissions and crude productivity for hospital doctors and nurses.”

It added that Wales and Northern Ireland showed a “similar pattern”.

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