International

Last updated:

Think tank rates NHS top for fairness and safety

Doctor wearing NHS lanyard - neck - manc160915 16x9
TOP SLOT: The NHS scored highly on several measures

The NHS has again been rated as the fairest and safest health service in the world, based on a comparison with other leading health systems.

US think tank the Commonwealth Fund has, for the second time in succession, judged the NHS to be in first place out of 11 health systems from around the world.

As well as being rated first overall, the UK health service was also given the top spot for the safety and coordination of care and preventive care measures.

The NHS was also rated the highest for equality of outcomes between high- and low-income patients, and was listed in the top three for both access to care and administrative efficiency.

Despite these successes, the NHS was only rated one place higher than the USA in terms of healthcare outcomes, a category taking into account population health and outcomes for specific diseases and conditions.

BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul, while welcoming the NHS’ continued overall first-place ranking, said that it was all the more remarkable given that the UK spends around £10bn less on healthcare than other leading European economies.

He added that the lower scoring on the fund report’s ratings for outcomes starkly illustrated the Government desperately needed to reverse cuts to services such as public health and social care.

He said: ‘This report provides clear evidence that the NHS is one of the top-performing healthcare systems in the world, and the most cost-effective in this study.

‘We need to make sure our NHS is protected, invested in and maintained, especially as a combination of rising patient demand, staff shortages and falling funding is seeing the health service reach breaking point.

‘These pressures may be a factor in why the NHS has scored lower in the report’s comparison of health outcomes. However, the study also shows the UK to be one of the worst funded health systems.

‘It is unfortunate that funding for public health and social care has been drastically cut, with large chunks of funding set aside for "sustainability and transformation" in England being used to plug holes in hospital finances, and with local decision makers being told to find billions of pounds of efficiency savings.

‘To ensure we stay at the top, as well as improve health outcomes, the NHS needs an end to the short-termism that has plagued the delivery of healthcare for too long and the Government to agree a long-term, credible plan to deliver the fully funded and supported NHS that staff want and patients deserve.’

Read BMA head of health policy Jonathan Ware's blog on the Commonwealth Fund's report

Read the report

Read more from Tim Tonkin and follow on Twitter.