OECD statistics provide new evidence for the inefficiency of the NHS

December 21, 2007 11:00 AM

The OECD's new Health at a Glance statistics paint a picture of the poor value for money we get from the NHS.  We spend almost exactly the OECD average amount on healthcare.  The OECD average is $2,759 PPP wheras the UK's is $2,724 PPP.


However, we don't get average amounts of a number of key healthcare inputs:


  • Acute beds per 1000 people, the OECD average is 3.9 but in the UK we only have 3.1.  This feeds into higher occupancy rates with 84 per cent of UK beds occupied against 75 per cent in the wider OECD.  These high occupancy rates contribute to high rates of hospital infection.

  • Practicing doctors per 1000 people, the OECD average is 3.0 but in the UK we only have 2.4.  This relatively low number of doctors means that they are stretched which will make seeing a specialist more difficult and could leave doctors overworked leading to a lower standard of care.  This feeds into lower doctor consultations per capita, the OECD average if 6.8 but in the UK we only get 5.1.

We do have slightly more nurses than the OECD average, 9.1 per 1000 people in the UK against 8.9 in the OECD but the difference is slight and could represent a greater tendency to have nurses perform tasks that would be performed by a doctor in another country.


Relatively low numbers of doctors and shortages of beds aren't created by a lack of resources but by inefficiency.  They contribute to low healthcare standards.  Mortality rates within 30 days of a patient has being admitted to hospital following a heart attack are 11.8 in the UK against 10.2 in the wider OECD.  This rate is particularly crucial as heart disease is the biggest killer in most industrialised countries.

The OECD's new Health at a Glance statistics paint a picture of the poor value for money we get from the NHS.  We spend almost exactly the OECD average amount on healthcare.  The OECD average is $2,759 PPP wheras the UK's is $2,724 PPP.


However, we don't get average amounts of a number of key healthcare inputs:


  • Acute beds per 1000 people, the OECD average is 3.9 but in the UK we only have 3.1.  This feeds into higher occupancy rates with 84 per cent of UK beds occupied against 75 per cent in the wider OECD.  These high occupancy rates contribute to high rates of hospital infection.

  • Practicing doctors per 1000 people, the OECD average is 3.0 but in the UK we only have 2.4.  This relatively low number of doctors means that they are stretched which will make seeing a specialist more difficult and could leave doctors overworked leading to a lower standard of care.  This feeds into lower doctor consultations per capita, the OECD average if 6.8 but in the UK we only get 5.1.

We do have slightly more nurses than the OECD average, 9.1 per 1000 people in the UK against 8.9 in the OECD but the difference is slight and could represent a greater tendency to have nurses perform tasks that would be performed by a doctor in another country.


Relatively low numbers of doctors and shortages of beds aren't created by a lack of resources but by inefficiency.  They contribute to low healthcare standards.  Mortality rates within 30 days of a patient has being admitted to hospital following a heart attack are 11.8 in the UK against 10.2 in the wider OECD.  This rate is particularly crucial as heart disease is the biggest killer in most industrialised countries.

Latest Blogs:

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

The sugar tax and the public finances

6:00 AM 05, Dec 2016 Harry Fairhead

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

Working for the taxman

6:00 AM 26, Nov 2016 Harry Fairhead

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

Further thoughts on the Autumn Statement

4:56 PM 24, Nov 2016 James Price

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

Have we had too much austerity?

10:57 AM 23, Nov 2016 Alex Wild