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United Kingdom: health system review

Anderson, Michael ORCID: 0000-0002-8454-4640, Pitchforth, Emma, Edwards, Nigel, Alderwick, Hugh, McGuire, Alistair and Mossialos, Elias ORCID: 0000-0001-8664-9297 (2022) United Kingdom: health system review. Health systems in transition, 24 (1). 1 - 194. ISSN 1817-6127

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This analysis provides a review of developments in financing, governance, organisation and delivery, health reforms and performance of the health systems in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has enjoyed a national health service with access based on clinical need, and not ability to pay for over 70 years. This has provided several important benefits including protection against the financial consequences of ill-health, redistribution of wealth from rich to poor, and relatively low administrative costs. Despite this, the United Kingdom continues to lag behind many other comparable high-income countries in key measures including life expectancy, infant mortality and cancer survival. Total health spending in the United Kingdom is slightly above the average for Europe, but it is below many other comparable high-income countries such as Germany, France and Canada. The United Kingdom also has relatively lower levels of doctors, nurses, hospital beds and equipment than many other comparable high-income countries. Wider social determinants of health also contribute to poor outcomes, and the United Kingdom has one of the highest levels of income inequality in Europe. Devolution of responsibility for health care services since the late 1990s to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has resulted in divergence in policies between countries, including in prescription charges, and eligibility for publicly funded social care services. However, more commonalities than differences remain between these health care systems. The United Kingdom initially experienced one of the highest death rates associated with COVID-19; however, the success and speed of the United Kingdom's vaccination programme has since improved the United Kingdom's performance in this respect. Principal health reforms in each country are focusing on facilitating cross-sectoral partnerships and promoting integration of services in a manner that improves the health and well-being of local populations. These include the establishment of integrated care systems in England, integrated joint boards in Scotland, regional partnership boards in Wales and integrated partnership boards in Northern Ireland. Policies are also being developed to align the social care funding model closer to the National Health Service funding model. These include a cap on costs over an individual's lifetime in England, and a national care service free at the point of need in Scotland and Wales. Currently, and for the future, significant investment is needed to address major challenges including a growing backlog of elective care, and staffing shortfalls exacerbated by Brexit.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © World Health Organization 2022 (acting as the host organization for, and secretariat of, the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies)
Divisions: LSE Health
Health Policy
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
H Social Sciences > HJ Public Finance
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2022 13:45
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2024 01:48

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