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Analysis exposes weakness in UK healthcare system

Recent data analysis has placed the UK in the bottom five for number of available hospital beds and nurses per 100,000 and revealed the best performing healthcare systems to be those of Japan and Germany.

The analysis by ACA (Accident Claims Advice) of data held by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development and the Commonwealth Fund about the healthcare systems of G20 members reveals which countries are driving healthcare innovation and which are underperforming in certain areas. The study examines factors such as the percentage of publicly funded healthcare, the percentage of GDP spent on healthcare and the number of beds and nurses available in each country.

Japan has the highest percentage of publicly funded healthcare (84%), which is significantly higher than the OECD average of 72%. The role of the state in providing healthcare services outstrips many other developed countries. Japan is closely followed by the UK (83%), Italy (78%), Germany (77%) and Turkey (77%).
The USA (48%) and Brazil (46%) were the two countries with the lowest figures for public finance. Brazil’s low funding could in part be down to its public health system run by Rio's state government reaching breaking point at the end of last year after authorities admitted to a budget shortfall, which was blamed on the drop in oil revenue.

The USA is the number one country when it comes to healthcare as a percentage of GDP (17.1%) and healthcare spending far exceeds that of other high-income countries. Available cross-national pricing data suggests prices for healthcare are notably higher in the US, potentially explaining a large part of the higher health spending.
France has the second highest healthcare spend as a percentage of GDP (11.5%) and Germany the third (11.3%). Turkey and Mexico were the G20 countries with the lowest percentages (5.4%) and (6.3%). The UK was in eighth position (9.1%).

Whilst the UK has ranked well for public funding and its GDP percentage, it was less successful when it came to other areas. The UK was in the bottom five for the number of available hospital beds (261 beds per 100,000 people). The countries that ranked lower were Canada (258), South Africa (231), Brazil (229) and Mexico (152).
The UK was also in the bottom five for the number of nurses, having only 300 nurses per 100,000 people. The only two countries with lower results were Turkey (248) and Mexico (244). The shortfall could be attributed to the cuts in the numbers of training places in each year under the coalition government. A recent report revealed the NHS is facing such a chronic shortage of British nurses that one in four had to be recruited from abroad in 2015.

In contrast, Japan fared particularly well in these sectors coming in first place for the most hospital beds (1,317 per 100,000) and third place for the number of nurses (1,081 per 100,000). Other countries that performed well included Germany (fourth position for hospital beds and first position for number of nurses) and France (fifth and fourth positions).

ACA’s Director of Operations James Ware comments on its latest findings, saying: “Our analysis reveals the UK stands out as a top performer in most categories except for healthcare outcomes, where it ranks near the bottom of results. We hope the latest G20 summit will help to accelerate addressing some of the UK’s key healthcare issues. It’s also interesting to see how well countries such as Japan and Germany fare in several categories.”