Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


How the NHS measures up to other health systems

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 22 February 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1079

Rapid Response:

Re: How the NHS measures up to other health systems

Asking UK citizens what they think of the NHS is a bit like asking North Koreans what they think of their country; 'Everything in the garden's rosy'. But, as Charles Moore in the Daily Telegraph said (2nd March), this is a position 'that cannot be sustained after 10 minutes’ conversation with any citizen of another developed country'.

From a consumers' point of view, the NHS is consistently ranked outside the top 10 health systems in Europe, usually about 14th, (Euro Health Index, 2009). All the top 10 are insurance-based systems; as the index's authors point out, 'Bismarck beats Beveridge every time!'

The NHS is not world-class, it's mediocre, average, OK. If it were a football team it would be Wigan Athletic, not Manchester United.

Oscar Wilde’s Lord Illingworth opines,‘Discontent is the beginning of the success of a nation'. In the same way, the NHS will never be truly world-class until the users of it realise that there are better ways of doing things, and that they've been kept ignorant too long by vested interests.

Competing interests: No competing interests

06 March 2012
Paul E Shannon
Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHSFT
2 Armthorpe Road, Doncaster DN2 5LT