Press release

NHS Confederation responds to the The King’s Fund report comparing the NHS to other countries’ health systems

Dr Layla McCay director of policy at the NHS Confederation on the King's Fund report on how the NHS compares with other health systems

26 June 2023

Responding to The King’s Fund’s new report comparing the NHS with the health systems of other countries, Dr Layla McCay director of policy at the NHS Confederation said:

“The NHS punches above its weight in many ways and this report comparing the UK’s health service with other nations shows that leaders are continuing to deliver bang for the taxpayer’s buck, all while having one arm tied behind their backs.

“While a mid-table performance isn’t something to be celebrated, leaders will point to the strong mitigating factors that this report highlights.

“We know that with 112,000 vacancies in the NHS, workforce is a key issue, and this report shows that the UK has ‘strikingly low levels of key clinical staff’ and is reliant on overseas recruitment. The imminent workforce plan must outline how it intends to get the NHS back up the league table in terms of staffing, and the government must commit to funding this.

“We also need to see sustained capital investment and this report reinforces just how far behind the NHS has fallen, suggesting that the UK lags behind counterparts in the number of CT machines, MRI scanners, and beds it has. This is to say nothing of the state of the NHS’s estate, which currently has a repair backlog to the tune of over £10bn.

“And we know that the UK has below average health spending per person compared to the other nations examined in the report, while also having the sixth lowest level of spending on managers and admin staff; there is a clear need for increases in both.

“Given all of this, it makes it all the more remarkable that the NHS is anywhere other than near the bottom of the league, yet it performs relatively well, particularly in terms of efficiency.

“Leaders are acutely aware of the areas the NHS underperforms in and are keen to deliver better outcomes for patients, particularly around cancer rates, but progress is being made. However, they need help to do more and will hope that this report prompts the government to invest in areas around workforce, capital and – with life expectancy lower than other countries in the report – prevention. With every £1 invested in the NHS returning £4 to the economy, it makes sound economic sense to have greater ambitions for the nation’s health.”

About us

We are the membership organisation that brings together, supports and speaks for the whole healthcare system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The members we represent employ 1.5 million staff, care for more than 1 million patients a day and control £150 billion of public expenditure. We promote collaboration and partnership working as the key to improving population health, delivering high-quality care and reducing health inequalities.