The UK has fewer doctors, nurses, hospital beds and crucial medical equipment than most other wealthy nations, a report has found.
There were just 2.8 doctors and 8.2 nurses for every 10,000 people in 2012, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
The other wealthy countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) had averages of 3.2 and 8.9 respectively, with the EIU describing the UK figures as ‘worrying’ – as there is a strong link between staff numbers and patient outcomes.
It pointed to the Mid Staffs scandal which saw hundreds die as a result of poor care, with low staffing given as a reason for the hospital’s failings.
The report also warned that although both Labour and the Tories are promising more doctors if they are in power after the General Election, self-employed GPs in the UK are already the highest-paid in the list, earning 3.6 times the average wage, meaning it would be expensive to employ more.
At the same time, too much wage restraint would put off new recruits, it added.
Salaried GPs and hospital doctors have far more modest earnings although nurses’ wages are also comparatively high, it said.
The EIU said it would be cheaper in the long term to invest in more permanent staff rather than spending millions on agency workers.
It described administrative staff as an ‘easy target’ for job cuts because their contribution to care is less obvious, but it said the administrative costs of the NHS are low compared with other countries.
The UK has fewer doctors, nurses, hospital beds and crucial medical equipment than most other wealthy nations, a report has found
In terms of physical resources, the report said the situation in the UK was even worse, ranked near the bottom of the OECD league with just 2.8 hospital beds per 1,000 population against an OECD average of 4.8. In Japan there were 13.4 per 1,000.
The UK had less than half the amount of equipment – such as CT scanners and MRI units – than the average, at 6.8 and 8.7 for a million people.
Overall it ranked 28th out of 30 countries for healthcare resourcing, with only Israel and Turkey coming out worse.
The UK fared better on the charts for healthcare spending – in 16th place out of 30 – but the report suggested this meant it is not getting the best value for money, while the amount being spent seems to be running ahead of funding, leading to growing budget deficits at many hospitals.
It said that although the UK healthcare system holds up well against its OECD peers judged on cost-efficiency, compared with other wealthy countries, the UK does not spend much on healthcare ‘and, in terms of equipment and staffing, it shows’.
The UK was also ‘mediocre’ in terms of outcomes, with life expectancy lower than in countries such as Japan, where older people are healthier.
Cancer mortality rates are higher than the OECD average, but the prevalence of diabetes is still relatively low compared with countries including France, Germany and Japan.
There was also good news for the UK’s performance in terms of equity, where the report said it ‘outperforms’ due to the NHS principle of free care at the point of use, meaning the gap between the care received by those on low incomes and those on higher incomes is smaller than in most OECD countries.
The report’s author, Ana Nicholls, said: ‘Although recruitment has already picked up, it is clear that NHS resources are very stretched compared with those in other OECD countries.
‘A tight budget will make it hard for politicians to fulfil their promises of extra funding, but resourcing will only become a bigger issue as the population ages.’
‘GREEDY’ PRIVATE SPECIALISTS UNDER FIRE FOR ‘PREYING ON THE NEEDY’
Doctors who treat patients privately are like the ‘greedy preying on the needy’, a consultant claims.
Heart specialist John Dean said private healthcare was a ‘con’ as doctors were more worried about making a fat fee than providing the best care. The consultant – who has just given up private work – said the conduct of some private doctors ‘bordered on criminal’.
Doctors tend to keep NHS patients waiting ever longer so they pay to have private treatment, he said. And a ‘jealousy’ exists between many consultants over how much each earns privately.
About 40 per cent of the 40,000 NHS consultants do some private work. Some can more than double their salaries, which range from £75,000 to £100,000.
The rules in their contract state that they must carry out ten sessions for the NHS a week – each lasting three to four hours – but are then free to work privately.
Dr Dean, who is based at the Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust, said in an article for the BMJ that this private work ‘deprives the NHS of a valuable resource’.
The British Medical Association said doctors had to put NHS patients first. It added: ‘There should be no conflict of interest.’
Source Mail Online