Women in UK die years earlier than in much of Europe - Health News - Health & Families - The Independent

Women in UK die years earlier than in much of Europe

NHS comes out badly in a new study amid fears that comparisons will be used to justify reforms

Britain's healthcare system trails the rest of Europe in a number of crucial areas, including female mortality, cancer survival rates, and levels of obesity, according to a study produced for the Government.

Women in the UK are dying years before they should; our death rate from respiratory diseases is more than twice as high as France; and we could save 10,000 lives each year if our cancer treatment matched the best European standards. As well as female life expectancy, Britain fares worse than EU averages on infant mortality, cardiovascular, liver and respiratory diseases, and survival rates for cervical, breast and colorectal cancer.

A briefing for ministers pushing through the coalition's controversial health reforms outlines a bleak assessment of the NHS's performance in comparison with the 15 oldest members of the EU.

The document, "International Comparisons for Health and Social Care Outcomes", sets out the UK's performance under 34 headings, covering death rates, deadly diseases, patient care, and lifestyle issues including smoking and drinking.

It identifies 19 areas where the UK performed worse than the average of the EU-15 member states; in many, the standard is deteriorating still further. The report says female life expectancy in the UK is lower than across the EU-15. The latest figures show Britain is in the bottom two countries for "amenable mortality", measured as "premature deaths that should not occur in the presence of effective and timely healthcare".

The premature mortality rate from all respiratory diseases – 11.6 per 100,000 of the population – is "more than twice as high as in France or Sweden, and considerably higher than the EU-15 average". The key figure for "potential years of life lost" by people who would have lived longer with better health, is put at 3,353 years per 100,000 population, far ahead of all compared countries.

There is some good news: the briefing identifies the UK's performance as better than average for patient experience and care for mental illness.

Critics of the report last night complained that the figures gave the misleading impression of "a broken NHS that is on its knees" – and said it should not be used as cover to justify the Government's reform programme.

Howard Catton, the Royal College of Nursing's head of policy, said: "The biggest risk the NHS currently faces is that the seismic scale of the reforms it is being asked to make will become a major distraction that hinders rather than helps the NHS."

Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, has been criticised for his use of statistics in the Health and Social Care Act. Last year, the British Medical Association responded to claims in the NHS White Paper about Britain's poor performance by pointing out that "international comparisons are difficult to quantify, sometimes simply due to concepts of illness and different cultures of diagnosis".

The Government briefing, produced as the Bill progressed through Parliament last autumn, uses data gathered from the EU-15 countries between 2007 and 2011. Its authors said it should not be used to rank health systems, or make "definitive judgements about healthcare standards". They also said it should be used for "highlighting differences in outcomes and raising questions about the quality of care in different countries."

Professor Richard Lilford, an expert in public health at Birmingham University, said the collection of international comparisons "cannot bear the inference that it contributes to any argument for healthcare reform", pointing to recent improvements in services and patient experiences.

He added: "None of this means that the service changes are necessarily a bad thing, merely that they should not be justified on the basis of these international comparisons."

A Department of Health spokesman said the report offered "further evidence of the need to modernise the NHS". He added: "It clearly shows the NHS is doing well in some areas, but it is still lagging behind in others."

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Project Manager with some Agile experience

    £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

    Data/ MI Analyst

    £25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

    KS1 Teacher Cornwall

    £23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

    Corporate Communications Manager - London - up to £80,000

    £60000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Corporate Marketing Communications M...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week