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UK health care 'serious flaws'

1st November 2007

The results of a new survey of 12,000 people show that patients in the UK have to wait longer for non-emergency surgery than in other countries.

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The study put the UK in last place for waiting times, with 15% of patients having to wait longer than six months for elective treatment. Canada was one place up with 14% and the Netherlands came top with 2%.

The Commonwealth Fund's study polled patients from seven western countries - the UK, US, Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the Netherlands.

It showed over half of UK patients (55%) said they faced problems in trying to visit their GP out-of-hours (on evenings and weekends). The UK fell behind Germany, New Zealand and the Netherlands in this respect.

More than half of the people polled in Britain said that "fundamental changes" should be made to the system. Many countries showed "similar figures", although the US was "much higher" and the Netherlands "lower".

However, patients in the UK were least likely to have difficulties with medical bills and insurance, the study showed. Only 1% of respondents said they had had problems, compared to 19% in the US.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "Over the last 10 years there has been record investment in the NHS."

"That money is paying for more staff and better pay, 1m more operations a year, over 100 new hospitals and improved access to healthcare."







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