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Updated – International Health Care Outcomes Index 2022

Tim Knox, July 2022

This updated comparison of global health systems places the UK second to bottom across a series of major health care outcomes, including life expectancy and survival rates from cancer, strokes and heart attacks. New data is included for health spending for 2020 and life expectancy and mortality rates.

This comparative study ranks the performance of the UK health care system with that of 18 comparable countries since 2000 or the earliest year for which data is available. It covers the level of health spending, overall life expectancy, the health care outcomes of the major diseases and the outcomes for treatable mortality and childbirth.

The choice of comparator countries and the diseases studied follows the methodology used in a 2018 report published jointly by the Health Foundation, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust.

Data is derived from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Health Statistics database.

In an update to the International Health Care Index published in May, Tim Knox has analysed new numbers released by the OECD showing:

  • Between 2020-2021 the UK saw the biggest increase in health spending as a proportion of GDP than any other country in a global 19 nation league table.
  • Our GDP has fallen faster than comparable countries as politicians relentlessly increase health spending – these two factors see Britain become the THIRD biggest health spender in Europe as a percentage of GDP.
  • Brits saw health spending go up by 14% on a per person measure – in a single year – breaking the £4,000 per person barrier – the largest increase of all 19 comparable countries and up by 43% since 2011.
  • New figures for avoidable deaths show that Brits are more likely to die of treatable diseases at the hands of the health system than any other country apart from America.
  • If the UK health system matched the average performance for health outcomes, over 9,000 lives a year would be saved.
  • British life expectancy has plummeted – among 19 similar countries only Americans die sooner. Life expectancy went up by an average of 9.6 months across other countries but fell by 2.4 months in the UK.

Across 16 major health care outcomes the UK comes bottom of the league four times – more than any other country – and is in the bottom three for 8 out of 16 measures. No other comparable country has such a poor record.

The charts and tables are based on a straightforward ranking of health care outcomes, enabling a direct comparison of the UK’s health system with its international rivals.

The ‘International Health Care Outcomes Index’ shows:

  • The UK is 10th out of 19 comparable countries for spending on its health system as a percentage of GDP. Putting us mid-table.
  • In 2019 the UK ranked 17th out of 19 comparable countries for life expectancy.
  • For strokes and heart attacks the UK has the worst survival rates of comparable countries.
  • Across 5 different types of cancer measured by the OECD the NHS comes 16th out of 18 comparable countries.
  • For treatable diseases the UK is second to bottom – 15th out of 16. If we matched the average of other countries, we would save over 6,500 lives every year or 17 a day.
  • The only thing the UK tops the charts on is helping diabetics avoid limb amputation.
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