NHS among developed world’s most efficient health systems, says study

By Randeep Ramesh

guardian.co.uk, August 7, 2011

The NHS is one of the most cost-effective health systems in the developed world, according to a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

The “surprising” findings show the NHS saving more lives for each pound spent as a proportion of national wealth than any other country apart from Ireland over 25 years. Among the 17 countries considered, the United States healthcare system was among the least efficient and effective.

Researchers said that this contradicted assertions by the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, that the NHS needed competition and choice to become more efficient.

“The government proposals to change the NHS are largely based on the idea that the NHS is less efficient and effective than other countries, especially the US,” said Professor Colin Pritchard, of Bournemouth University, who analysed a quarter of a century’s data from 1980.

“The results question why we need a big set of health reform proposals … The system works well. Look at the US and you can see where choice and competition gets you. Pretty dismal results.”

The study will be a blow for Lansley, who argues that patients should choose between competing hospital services and GPs.

Pritchard points out that even Adam Smith, the Scottish economist and father of market-based ideology, thought the state was “probably better” at health and education.



Comparing the USA, UK and 17 Western countries’ efficiency and effectiveness in reducing mortality

By Colin Pritchard and Mark S Wallace

Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine Short Reports, July 1, 2011


In cost-effective terms, i.e. economic input versus clinical output, the USA healthcare system was one of the least cost-effective in reducing mortality rates whereas the UK was one of the most cost-effective over the period.



By Don McCanne, MD

We continue to be faced with the painful truth that the United States has the highest health care costs while our mortality rates compare unfavorably to many other countries. The authors of this study suggest that the U.S. model of “choice and competition” may be a major source of our dismal results.

The British are using our model to show their would-be reformers that their single, integrated National Health Service is more efficient and effective than our model based on private, marketplace competition. When will we learn the same lesson?

Re-posted with permission from pnhp.org.