MAJOR STUDY ON THE NHS REVEALS OVER 17,000 UNNECESSARY DEATHS A YEAR

January 18, 2008 8:00 AM

Download the full report here (PDF).

  • A statistical analysis of World Health Organisation data reveals that the poor performance of the NHS is causing 17,157 deaths per year
  • £34 billion of extra spending under Brown has made no difference to UK mortality

Using data from the World Health Organisation and statistical techniques pioneered in the British Medical Journal, the TaxPayers’ Alliance has produced a major report on NHS performance since the 1980s.

Wasting Lives: A statistical analysis of NHS performance in a European context since 1981, analyses data from the WHO to estimate the number of deaths that could plausibly have been averted by the NHS since the 1980s.  The measure used is known as “mortality amenable to healthcare”.  The calculations compare the UK performance to that of Germany, France, the Netherlands and Spain.

  • If the UK were to achieve the same level of “mortality amenable to healthcare” as the average of the other European countries studied, there would have been 17,157 fewer deaths in 2004, the most recent year for which data is available. 
  • This is equivalent to over five times the total number of deaths in road accidents and over two and a half times the number of deaths related to alcohol in 2004.
  • Steady improvements in mortality rates, relative to European peers, have been made at almost exactly the same rate throughout the Thatcher, Major and Blair governments despite huge increases in spending from 1999 to date.  There can no longer be any doubt that the Government’s extra NHS spending has completely failed to deliver results.
  • If NHS spending had continued to increase relative to European peers at its pre-1999 rate £34.3 billion – £1,350 per household – less would have been spent between 1999 and 2004.  In 2004 alone, £9.8 billion less would have been spent, 9.7 per cent of total spending in that year.  This extra money has largely been wasted.

Matthew Sinclair, author of the report and a Policy Analyst at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“Thousands are dying every year thanks to Britain’s health service not delivering the standards people expect and receive in other European countries.  Billions of pounds have been thrown at the NHS but the additional spending has made no discernable difference to the long-term pattern of falling mortality.  This is a colossal waste of lives and money.  We need to learn lessons from European countries with healthcare systems that don’t suffer from political management, monopolistic provision and centralisation.”

Professor Karol Sikora, Medical Director of CancerPartnersUK, steering group member of Doctors for Reform and author of the foreword to the report, said:

“The NHS should not be a religion, with its structure set in tablets of stone.  We face a choice between a modern, consumer driven service for all or a decaying, bureaucratic system which only those with their own resources manage to escape.  Politicians need to read this report carefully and determine the optimal strategy they can put to a well informed public.  Those that capture the best way forward will carry the British voter with them.”

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