Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Useful NHS stats comparison with other EU countries

One of the few facts used by David Cameron to support his restructuring of the NHS is that expenditure on healthcare is approaching the European average, but that UK outcomes are worse. The following data comes from the latest OECD figures, revised in October 2010.

It is true that UK expenditure rose, from 7.6% of GDP in 2002 to 8.7%, in 2008. Over the same period, expenditure on healthcare rose from 10.1% to 10.5% for Austria, 10.5% to 11.2% for France, 8.3% to 9.1% for Italy, 8.9% to 9.9% in the Netherlands, and 9.3% to 9.4% in Sweden. The UK has closed the gap, but the latest comparative figures available (2008) show that the UK still had the lowest level of expenditure among relevant European comparators.

As to outcomes, in some areas the UK performed better than comparators, in others worse. On cardiovascular diseases, the death rate was 175.2 per 100,000 for the UK, compared with 199 for Germany, 155 for Italy and 123 for France. For cancer, the death rate per 100,000 was 147, compared with 154 for France, 135 for Germany and 132 for Italy.

Two conclusions emerge. First, UK healthcare expenditure does not match relevant European comparators. Second, evaluating the outcomes depends on the areas chosen, but a reasonable conclusion is that the UK performed at the level of its European comparators.

It may be that there are "lies, damn lies, and statistics". But an ounce of evidence is preferable to a ton of assertion.

Roderick Martin


See also, posting http://against-tory-cuts.blogspot.com/2011/02/lack-of-evidence-to-support-nhs.html

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