UK’s healthcare plummets on global efficiency tables

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British healthcare has fallen 14 places on global league tables for healthcare efficiency, and is behind countries such as Chile, Algeria and the Czech republic.

It means the UK is now 35th of 56 in the global rankings – a sharp fall from 21st place last year.

The analysis by Bloomberg analysts compares countries on the basis of two simple measures – life expectancy versus the percentage of spending on healthcare.

Britain’s life expectancy has remained unchanged in recent years, while other countries have seen improvements.

Hong Kong remains top of the tables, with life expectancy of 84.3 while just 5.7 per cent of GDP is spent on health. Second place goes to Singapore, with life expectancy of 82.7, and just 4.3 per cent of GDP spend on health.

Spain and Italy have similar life expectancy, but both spend far more of their GDP on health, with 9.2 per cent and 9.0 per cent respectively.

Britain’s life expectancy is 81 – 79.2 years for males and 82.9 years for females – with little changes seen between 2014 and 2015, the period covered. Meanwhile the 2015 comparisons show it is spending 9.9 per cent of GDP on health – a rise from 9.1 per cent in 2014.

The absolute cost amounts to $4,356 a year (ÂŁ3,327) per head of population, including taxes for the NHS and private healthcare spending.

Healthcare analysts said the findings took no account of quality of life, meaning that healthcare systems which provided treatment such as cataract operations or mental healthcare fared better than those which only funded the basics.

The research does not take account of the lifestyles of populations, which affect the levels of pressure on services.

But the stark change in Britain’s position means it has fallen to the bottom half of the tables, dropping behind countries including Algeria  Portugal and the Czech republic.

It also remains behind countries including Mexico and Chile and Algeria, with Slovakia and Peru as its closest peers.

The healthcare efficiency index ranks countries with an average lifespan of at least 70 years, GDP per-capita exceeding $5,000 and a minimum population of 5 million.

The US came second worst on the index – with 16.8 per cent of GDP spent on health – $9,536  (ÂŁ7,284) a year – and an average life expectancy of 78.7 years.

John Appleby, chief economist at the Nuffield Trust said the analysis took no account of quality of life.

He said: “This measure just divides how long people live for by the amount of spending in different countries.”

“That is not a very good measure of what health care systems are achieving, so it’s not clear that this tells us much about the NHS. Diet, smoking rates, standards of living and public services more generally will all have a powerful effect on life expectancy. On the other hand, many of the most common and important operations carried out, like cataract procedures to save eyesight, wouldn’t have any effect on lifespan,” he said.

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