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Warning on disease survival rates

Published 03/07/2015

The number of people going to hospital with conditions such as asthma remains relatively high
The number of people going to hospital with conditions such as asthma remains relatively high
The NHS should do better on reducing preventable hospital admissions, a report says

The UK has a "mountain to climb" in reducing preventable hospital admissions and improving survival rates for common diseases, a report has warned.

The number of people going to hospital with conditions such as asthma remains relatively high, with 61 admissions per 100,000 population in 2011, compared to 13.6 in Canada and 11.4 in Italy, the report published by the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation found.

While the country has made headway in reducing the number of people dying from heart attacks in recent years, it still lags behind the five other countries where data are available, the report said, with 10% of people over the age of 45 dying after 30 days compared to 8.2% in Norway and 8.4% in New Zealand.

The UK also has a higher death rate for common cancers, although it was found to have an "excellent" performance on cancer screening, with more than three quarters of 50-69 year old women being screened for breast cancer.

It performs better than other countries in achieving high flu vaccination rates and lower antibiotic prescribing rates, but has a higher mortality rate from common strokes caused by a blood clot than most other countries where figures are available.

The charities said the findings were based on analysis of 27 care quality indicators in up to 15 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries between 2000 and 2011 or 2012.

Nuffield Trust chief executive Nigel Edwards said: "Interpreting international data on healthcare systems is notoriously tricky, and any comparisons should be handled with care. However, it is clear from this analysis that the UK can and should do better.

"Our poor performance on cancer survival compared with other leading countries is well-known and continues to be a concern. It is also worrying that a UK citizen appears to have a significantly lower chance of surviving a heart attack than a Scandinavian one.

"We enter the new parliament with a mountain to climb in reducing preventable hospital admissions and improving survival from common killer diseases, all at a time of continuing austerity affecting public services."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "This report shows we've made significant progress in quality across the board. The NHS is already perhaps the most equitable system globally and we are now focusing on tackling preventable conditions like obesity and type two diabetes.

"The excellent cancer screening the Nuffield Trust highlights has helped survival rates reach record highs and by investing £8 billion to create a truly seven-day service by 2020, we'll continue to reduce mortality and improve patient care."

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