In recent months the NHS has taken a hammering in the media with reports that A&E departments were at their worst since records began and were missing waiting time targets all over the country. However how does the UK’s healthcare system stack up against other major economic nations?
According to a survey conducted by market research company Iposo Mori, 70% of the UK’s general population agreed that the NHS was amongst the best in the world, with 45% of the participants stating that the NHS was the thing that made them most proud to be British.
Being proud of a service or satisfied with it however doesn’t necessarily mean that it can compete with the rest of the world.
A report by the London School of Economics and Politics (LSE) published in the BMJ analysed a study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund that detailed how the NHS was comparable to other health systems.
The study assessed (using uniform criteria) the health systems of 14 high-income countries (Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the United States), and it indicated that accessibility of healthcare in the UK was better than any of the other countries involved. Additionally, healthcare in the UK was deemed to be better organised, safer and more patient focused.
However, the LSE paper did conclude that like all healthcare systems the NHS has its “strengths and weaknesses.”
Therefore we must also look other countries healthcare and cherry-pick the best options from each. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to the issues that the NHS is facing. A recent article in The Guardian looked at China’s healthcare system and how they cope with an enormous population (over 1.3 billion people). For example they already have in place a database that contains all patients records that are accessible digitally at the touch of button, which for a country with the population as stated above is an incredible achievement and something that the UK has been unable to do despite numerous costly initiatives.
There are other counties that we could learn from too; Scandinavian countries Denmark and Norway have an innovative approach to healthcare technology and data sharing whereas in Australia they adopt a funding policy that ensures universal access to care and ensures elderly or patients with pre-existing conditions are not overlooked.
To ensure that the NHS runs at its optimum and continues to be a world-leader all parties must come together and overcome the barriers preventing innovation. Looking at and adopting approaches from other countries healthcare systems isn’t a sign that the NHS is not as good as the rest of the world and it may just help to overcome it’s current issues.
What do you think? Have you had any experience with healthcare systems around the world, if so how do they compare with the NHS? Get in touch via the comments below.