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King’s Fund finds UK has fewer healthcare resources than comparable healthcare systems

Could international comparisons force government to increase health spend?


International comparisons of the UK’s key health resources suggest it has fewer staff than other countries, is weaker in some types of high cost equipment and spends less on medicines.


King’s Fund policy analysts have issued an analysis of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data that compares the UK to a selection of European and English-speaking countries.


The analysis shows the UK has fewer staff, beds and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computer-aided tomography (CT) scanners than average, and that while healthcare spending is about average it spends less on medicines.


The report warns that changes in accounting in the UK has skewed the healthcare spend. For example, some aspects of social care are now, for accounting purposes, regarded as healthcare spending. Also, capital spending on hospitals and IT are now excluded.


It also cautions that using international comparisons in this way could lead to greater investment in easy-to-measure areas such as scanner numbers, while already under-resourced areas such as mental health spending continue to be left behind.


Further information

The King’s Fund: Spending on and availability of health care resources: how does the UK compare to other countries?