Debate about how to improve the NHS has been handicapped by a lack of suitable comparative data about the functioning of other health systems. David Ingleby and colleagues (including LSE Health and Social Care’s Philipa Mladovsky) examine two recent reports by the Commonwealth Fund
The government’s plans for reorganising the English National Health Service have sparked heated discussions about the performance of the UK health system in comparison with that of other countries. Politicians favouring reform have emphasised real and perceived shortcomings of the NHS, while opponents have lauded its successes. Objective data have been sadly lacking in much of this debate. Arbitrary examples of good or bad performance from the UK and various other countries have been thrown back and forth, often using totally incommensurable data. Two new publications from the Commonwealth Fund, a New York based health policy institute, shed some much needed light on these questions. We analyse the data and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the NHS in the light of current proposals for reform.