28 November 2019 06:33
Get the biggest politics stories by email Subscribe Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice Could not subscribe, try again later Invalid Email Britain has the fewest nurses, shortest GP appointments and worst cancer survival rates compared to other developed nations. The UK spends the least on healthcare and provides some of the worst standards of treatment, a shock study found. After a decade of austerity and historically low NHS funding, the worrying findings come amid growing fears that the health service will be "sold off" in a post-Brexit trade deal with the US. The London School of Economics and Harvard University in the US compared the UK with nine similar high-income countries – Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the US. The UK had the lowest healthcare expenditure per person at £2,978, compared with an average of £4,438.
Britain had the fewest nurses per head of population at 7.8 per 1,000 people, compared to 17.2 in Switzerland and an average of 11.4. (Image: Getty Images/Blend Images) Patients in the UK also had shorter GP appointments, the study, published the British Medical Journal found. In Britain, 92% of patients said they had less than 15 minutes with their GP, compared to an average of 38%. In Sweden, just 2% of patients said they had less than 15 minutes. The UK also had the lowest five-year survival rates for breast and colon cancer. Lead author Prof Irene Papanicolas, of LSE, said: "The NHS showed pockets of good performance. But spending, patient safety and population health were all below average to average at best. "If the NHS wants to achieve comparable health outcomes at a time of growing demographic pressure, it may need to spend more to increase the supply of labour and long-term care, and reduce the declining trend in social spending." She added: "Although the UK has comparable numbers of people over the age of 65, it spends less of its already low total healthcare expenditure on long-term care." Experts used data, including from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, to look at seven key areas of health. The UK spent approximately 8.7% of GDP on health in 2017, compared to an average of 11.5%. And Britain had fewer doctors, at 2.8 per 1,000 people in 2017, compared to an average of 3.5. The report said: "Despite already low levels of labour, the UK is making do with fewer doctors and nurses, a challenge that is likely to be exacerbated in the context of Brexit. "Although access to care compared favourably to other countries... quality seems to be slipping." Historically, the NHS has had annual funding increases of around 4% but for much of the last decade it has been closer to 1%. The NHS now has record waiting times and a staffing crisis, with more than 100,000 vacancies. Britain had among the highest proportion of foreign-trained doctors (28.6%) and nurses (15%) of all the countries. We had the third highest number of preventable deaths, and were below average on deaths within 30 days of a heart attack or three days of a stroke. Dr Chaand Nagpaul, of the British Medical Association, said: "The NHS is under-staffed, underfunded and buckling under unprecedented pressure. As one of the world's richest countries, it is shameful to see how we compare with similar nations. "Britain must increase its health spending significantly if it is to provide UK patients with quality and safe care." Dame Donna Kinnair, of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "During this election, politicians should ask themselves if this sorry state is where the UK should be and voters should demand answers." Meanwhile, another global study found that Britain has some of the fewest hospital beds per head of population. Experts analysed healthcare systems in 100 cities in similar developed nations and half of the 10 cities with the fewest beds were in the UK. (Image: Getty) And there were long delays at Hull Royal Infirmary earlier today as ambulances lined up to hand over patients amid a backlog at A&E. A hospital worker said: "There are two-hour waits on hospital beds. There's about 18 ambulances queueing up now." Health Secretary Matt Hancock said tonight: "Our brilliant NHS staff are performing incredibly well under increasing demand. "A Conservative-majority government will deliver 6,000 more GPs and 50,000 more nurses by the end of the next parliament. "Corbyn's plans for a four day week and unlimited immigration will cripple our NHS and put even more pressure on our hardworking NHS staff. "Only Boris Johnson can get Brexit done and focus on the people's priorities – like having more hospitals, more GPs and more nurses delivering for patients across the country."