The NHS is lagging behind the rest of Europe’s health care, new research suggests. Out of the 21 countries analysed, the UK has fewer doctors and nurses than almost any other region, according to a UK study.
Previous research suggests there are around 100,000 healthcare-staff vacancies in the English NHS, with nearly half of nurses believing shortages prevent them doing their jobs well.
Only Denmark and Sweden have fewer hospital beds than Britain, which is also lagging behind all other European countries in terms of investment in healthcare technologies, such as MRI scanners.
The Care Quality Commission has said the NHS is ‘straining at the seams’ with more than 90 per cent of hospital beds being occupied, which is far higher than the 85 per cent recommended level for safe and efficient care.
Results further suggest the UK spends just 9.7 per cent of its national wealth on healthcare, which is substantially less than the minimum 11 per cent in Germany, France and Sweden.
At the beginning of the year, NHS chiefs demanded radical action to free up beds and medical staff due to casualty units being under ‘extreme and sustained’ pressure with flu cases, with at least 306 related deaths, according to Public Health England.
The NHS is lagging behind the rest of Europe’s health care, new research suggests (stock)
How many doctors and nurses are there in the UK?
The UK has 2.8 doctors per 1,000 people, which is under the 3.6 average and substantially less than the lead Austria’s 5.1 medics.
There also just under 7.9 nurses per 1,000 members of the public, placing the UK significantly behind Switzerland’s 18 and Norway’s 17.3.
Around 10 per 1,000 is the average.
Yet, the researchers, from the London-based healthcare charity The King’s Fund, stress the results do not indicate how skilled healthcare professionals are or how efficiently they work.
They carried out the study by analysing data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The results are published on the charity’s website.
The UK has 2.8 doctors per 1,000 people, which is substantially less than the 3.6 average
Britain also has just 7.9 nurses per 1,000 members of the public versus the average 10.4
HOW MUCH PRESSURE WAS THE NHS UNDER DURING THE ‘HUMANITARIAN CRISIS’ OF 2016?
The NHS endured its worst ever winter crisis, with waiting times, cancelled operations and bed-blocking running at, or near, record levels last year.
Official figures illustrated the scale of the scale of the turmoil to engulf the health service in the face of unprecedented pressures.
Bed-blocking due to a lack of social care places was at a record high with more than 2,500 health patients prevented from leaving hospitals each day – specifically because there is nowhere for them to go.
Statistics from NHS England report also revealed nearly 200,000 patients waited at least four hours in A&E between the winter months of December to February – a five-fold increase from just 41,000 five years previously.
Supporters of the NHS reacted in fury after the Red Cross claimed hospitals were facing a ‘humanitarian crisis’ after its worst week in 15 years
Extreme waiting times also reached record levels, as nearly 2,000 patients were forced to wait at least 12 hours in A&E over the same period.
And cancer referral rates in February were at their second lowest level on record.
Supporters of the NHS reacted in fury after the Red Cross claimed hospitals were facing a ‘humanitarian crisis’ after its worst winter in 15 years.
The charity said it stepped in to help the NHS in England to deal with the increased demand during the winter, but have been hit with criticism accusing them of overstating the issue.
It comes as it emerged that two patients died on trolleys in Worcestershire Royal Hospital’s accident and emergency department in January.
How many hospital and care-home beds are there?
The UK has just 2.6 hospital beds per 1,000 people, which is substantially less than the average 4.4.
Britain falls significantly behind Germany, which leads with 8.1.
The researchers believe their findings may highlight increasing pressures on the NHS leading to bed shortages.
Yet, they add, fewer beds may be a sign of shorter stays, greater efficiency and improved out-patient care.
Outside of the NHS in nursing and care homes, which are usually privately funded, the UK has 47.6 beds per 1,000 people.
This is better than Poland, which has the fewest at 12.2, but lags far behind the Netherlands, which is in the lead with 73.9.
Few residential-care beds may reflect an increase in at-home visits to help people with everyday tasks, according to the researchers.
The UK has just 2.6 beds per 1,000 people, which is significantly less than the average 4.4
Outside of the NHS in nursing and care homes, which are usually privately funded, the UK has just 47.6 beds per 1,000. This lags far behind the Netherlands, which is in the lead with 73.9.
How much does the UK invest in medical technology?
The UK appears to invest the least in modern-medical technology with just 9.5 CT scanners, compared to the average 23.9, and 7.2 MRIs, versus 15.2, per million people.
Australia has the most CT scanners at 59.6 and Germany the highest number of MRIs at 33.6 per million members of the public.
According to the researchers, investment in technology is essential to improving diagnoses and treatments, which leads to cost savings.
Only NHS scanners were included in the analysis.
The UK invests the least in medical technology with just 9.5 CT scanners per million people
Britain also has just 7.2 MRI scanners per million compared to the average of 15.2
How much does the UK spend on healthcare?
Britain spends just £497.40 per person on medication, which is less than the average £579.30 and significantly under Switzerland’s £1,056.10.
Across all countries analysed, around 16 per cent of healthcare costs go towards drugs.
Lower spending is thought to indicate greater efficiency and the use of cheaper, generic options.
The UK’s 9.7 per cent GDP spending on healthcare is just above the average’s 9.6 per cent.
Britain spends just £497.40 per person on medication, which is less than the average £579.30
The UK’s 9.7 per cent GDP spending on healthcare is just above the average’s 9.6 per cent
PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY FINALLY APOLOGISES FOR THE 55,000 OPERATIONS CANCELLED… A DAY AFTER REFUSING TO ACCEPT THE NHS WAS IN THE MIDST OF A CRISIS
Mrs May finally apologised to patients who faced a delay on January 4
Prime Minister Theresa May finally apologised to patients who faced a delay on January 4, after it was announced 55,000 operations will be postponed.
The unprecedented move to cancel non-urgent procedures to free up beds and frontline staff was made by NHS bosses.
The decision prompted an apology from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday, following pressure from his critics that he was ‘running scared’.
Mrs May apologised during a visit today to Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey, one of many trusts affected by the NHS move to cancel procedures.
After refusing to accept the NHS was in a crisis the day before, she said: ‘I know it’s difficult, I know it’s frustrating, I know it’s disappointing for people, and I apologise.’
Her comments followed official data which showed record numbers of patients are being forced to wait in ambulances for treatment.
Some 16,900 people were forced to wait for more than 30 minutes in ambulances to be seen by staff at A&E over the Christmas week – the highest total this winter.