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Press release

The King's Fund responds to the Health at a Glance report from OECD

Commenting on today’s Health at a Glance 2023 report from the OECD, Veena Raleigh, Senior Fellow, The King’s Fund said:

‘The latest comparisons of health care quality and outcomes in OECD countries show that, overall, the UK continues to compare poorly with comparator countries on many health outcomes. For leading killers such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, the UK under-performs along the whole pathway of prevention through to early diagnosis and treatment. Hence the UK’s higher rate of deaths following a heart attack or stroke, poorer cancer survival, and greater rates of avoidable deaths – all of which contribute to the country’s low ranking on life expectancy.

‘Pre-pandemic life expectancy in the UK ranked poorly among comparator countries – with the exception of the US – particularly among women. As in most countries, mortality in the UK rose sharply in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic; however, the increase was higher in the UK than in many comparator European countries.* Added to which, the burden of long-term and untreated illness in the UK is now burgeoning. Updated ONS data due out later this year will show whether or not the pace of recovery in life expectancy in the UK matches that seen elsewhere.

‘The UK has much ground to make up if it is to improve its international standing on health outcomes and life expectancy, the sentinel global measure of a country’s health status. The government needs to ensure not just recovery from the impacts of the pandemic on health and health care services, but also to make up for the UK’s lacklustre pre-pandemic performance in these areas. As well as tackling waiting times for diagnostics and treatment, ambitious cross-government action is needed to prevent disease by reducing risk factors such as obesity and smoking.’

Notes to editors

To read the Health at a Glance report please go to: OECD Health at a Glance 2023

*Comparisons of all-cause mortality between European countries and regions - Office for National Statistics

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The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.

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