The NHS has topped a survey ranking 11 of the world’s largest healthcare systems, but was found lacking in healthcare outcomes.
In Mirror, Mirror 2017, the Commonwealth Fund compared the UK to systems in the US, Netherlands, France, Germany, Canada and other prominent nations on several criteria of proficiency in provision.
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Scoring higher than any other nation in care process and equity of provision, the UK topped the overall rankings. However, the NHS placed tenth out of 11 for its healthcare outcomes, only coming out ahead of the US. The US tailed other countries badly, placing tenth or eleventh in four of five categories and coming eleventh overall.
For the second time in a row, the NHS has managed to come out on top in the study – which publishes every three years – despite increased restrictions to budgetary spending, including cuts to social care and local public health services, as well as a cap on pay for staff.
A spokesperson for the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) said: ‘Despite continued underfunding, the NHS remains both safe and affordable compared to international equivalents. But there are 40,000 nursing vacancies in England alone, and the situation is getting worse – more nurses are now leaving the profession than joining it.
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‘Safe staffing levels are key to improving patient outcomes. There is clear and robust evidence linking higher numbers of degree-educated nurses with improved outcomes for patients.
‘The government must act to recruit and retain nurses, and the first step must be to scrap the 1% pay cap that continues to drive people away from the profession.’
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt welcomed the result for the NHS. ‘These outstanding results are a testament to the dedication of NHS staff who, despite pressure on the frontline are delivering safer, more compassionate care than ever,’ he said.
‘Ranked the best healthcare system of 11 wealthy countries, the NHS has again showed why it is the single thing that makes us most proud to be British.’
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The report highlighted the NHS’s almost-unique status as a public body as a key factor in its perceived success, reading: ‘Most hospitals are publicly owned, and the specialists who work in them are often government employees.
‘This is not true of all providers. Most general practitioner practices are privately owned. Health care in the UK is centrally directed and has more direct management accountability to the government than in other health systems.’