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14 May 2017

UK NHS report - the best and worst countries for health care

UK NHS report - the best and worst countries for health care
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There is no doubt that the NHS is under pressure, as Government funding cuts and staffing problems can lead to increased wait times, a lack of hospital beds, and concern over how to meet the demands generated by an increasing population.

According to recent research carried out by the BBC, published on their website, none of the four countries that make up the UK have hit their targets, which include wait times in A&E, treatment times for serious illnesses like cancer and more routine procedures such as knee replacements. The report below shows the continued struggle the NHS has experienced over the last year as well as highlighting the best and worst performing countries in the UK.


In England, the average spend is £2,057 per person, which is the lowest in the UK. The system is split between NHS trusts and commissioners. Social care is run by councils.

78% of hospital patients failing to be treated or discharged on time

England struggled to meet targets, with 78% of hospital patients failing to be treated or discharged on time, as a result of this nearly half of hospitals declared a major alert due to a shortage of beds. This means that one in five patients found themselves experiencing a delay for a bed – double the average rate – as well as ambulance staff finding themselves unable to hand over patients to A&E.

This trend for increased waits can be seen in multiple areas of the NHS with reported increases in waits for a hospital bed for routine operations, and the target for cancer treatment within 62 days having been missed.

There are plans in place to improve the situation however, with a five-year plan being introduced to overhaul the health of the community. How this will be implemented is still to be decided, with £22 billion of savings needed to be made by 2020. This saving has already triggered further cuts, including impending hospital closures and staff redundancies.


Scotland has the highest spend per person at £2,160 and is run by 14 health boards which organise both hospital and community services. Social care is organised by the council and personal care, such as help washing and dressing, is offered for free for those in need.

Scotland leads the way for healthcare in the UK, meeting the four hour A&E target 90% of the time. Their impressive performance can be attributed to the pooling of healthcare funding, allowing the different areas to work together. Significant progress has been seen in both Glasgow and Edinburgh, where the bulk of the population lives.

Cancer targets are still shy of the desired mark however, with 87% receiving treatment within the 62 day window.


Providing £2,084 per person, the NHS in Wales is made up of seven councils which oversee hospital and community services. Social care is once again organised by the council and is capped at £60 a week.

Wales has seen an increase in funding, with an extra £50 million received from the Government to pay for extra beds and to help deal with the influx in winter admissions, yet despite this only 81% of admissions were seen within the four hour window. In fact the number of people waiting over 12 hours has risen by 2/3rds compared to last year.

This is partly due to a 10% increase in admissions, with ambulance services also reporting their busiest ever start of the year for 2017. There are plans to reduce this congestion however, with a new system which narrows the number of cases needing an urgent response. They believe this will allow ambulances to reach a third of calls within eight minutes.

Wales also failed to meet the 62 day cancer target, with only 86% receiving treatment in this time.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has an average spend of £2,125 per person. Their hospitals, community and social care are all run by five health and care boards. Over-75s are entitled to free care in their own home if required.

Northern Ireland has the worst performance in the UK, with only 63% of patients seen within the four-hour window over the Christmas period. The same percentage received cancer treatment within the 62 day window, and even routine procedures have seen doubled wait times.

In an attempt to curb these declining standards, health ministers have set out a 10 year plan to improve services however the plan has not outlined how to cope with hospital closures or indicated where funding will come from. Further to this, political instability is likely to complicate the agreement of the budget.

Sources: All stats from:

Download the best and worst countries for health care.pdf

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