The UK has one of the worst healthcare systems in the developed world with a poor doctor to patient ratio, an economic think tank has said.The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) claims patients are dying needlessly from chronic illnesses, while too much importance is being attached to systems and processes rather than providing care.
In its annual Health At A Glance 2015 report, the OECD said the UK needs to spend £5bn to hire 75,000 doctors and nurses so it can come on par with other Western countries in terms of providing better health care. The quality of healthcare in the country is poor to mediocre, the report added.
Among the 34 OECD nations, UK was lagging far behind in containing obesity in adults and children. Life expectancy at birth, for both males and females, was determined to be dire, with UK being ranked 24th in doctor-patient ratio. The bowel and cervical cancer survival rate was also well below the OECD average.
Mark Pearson, deputy director of employment, labour and social affairs at the OECD, said the figures show that the "UK in general has mediocre outcomes despite all the attention that has been put into it. We don't have adequate staffing to ensure basic procedures are being followed. We still have annoyingly bad outcomes for hospital-acquired infections and basic things aren't being done in the UK to the extent they are in other countries. We can speculate why".
He added: "One thing we can collectively think about is whether there are far too many forms in the UK and everyone spends far too much time thinking about who they should deal with in the organogram (hierarchy) rather than how they should make basic processes of care work better."
Pearson also said UK was spending far too less in its healthcare system than other OECD nations, which he believes is the reason for the poor record of healthcare in the country. According to the report, from 2009 to 2013, the funding for the NHS has remained static.
"However, too many lives are still lost because the quality of care is not improving fast enough," the report said. "Survival following diagnosis for cancer has increased in the United Kingdom over the past 10 years, but the UK still remains in the bottom third of OECD countries in five-year relative survival for colorectal cancer, breast cancer and cervical cancer, though survival rates are improving at least as fast as the OECD average. The UK does not excel at delivering high-quality acute care either."
"We are making the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world which is why we have invested £10 billion to fund the NHS's own plan for its future. We know there are areas where the NHS can improve which is why we have prioritised investment in the frontline and there are already more than 21,400 extra clinical staff, including 10,500 additional doctors and more than 7,600 additional nurses on our wards since May 2010," a Department of Health spokesperson was quoted as saying by The Independent.