United Kingdom

OECD Health at a Glance 2009: Key findings for the United Kingdom


The OECD’s latest edition of Health at a Glance shows that all countries could do better in providing good quality health care.


Quality of Care

The UK screens more women for breast and cervical cancer than do most other developed countries.  Although survival rates for different types of cancer are improving in the UK, most other OECD countries achieve higher rates.  The UK does well in avoiding hospital admissions for people with high blood pressure and certain heart problems, but could improve the treatment of people with asthma and diabetes. 


  • In 2006, 79.4% of eligible women in the United Kingdom were screened for cervical cancer (OECD average 64.0%), and 70.7% for breast cancer (OECD average 62.2%).
  • The 5-year relative survival rate for cervical cancer during 2002-2007 was 59.4% (OECD average 65.7%). For breast cancer, it was 78.5%, slightly lower than the OECD average of 81.2%.
  • Avoidable hospital admissions for congestive heart failure and hypertension tend to be lower than the OECD average in the United Kingdom, but asthma and diabetes complications admissions are higher.
  • In-hospital case-fatality rates within 30 days of admission for acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) are higher than the OECD average (6.3% vs. 4.9%  in 2007). The United Kingdom also had higher rates of deaths in hospital for both ischaemic (9.0% vs 5.0%) and hemorrhagic stroke (26.3% vs 19.8%).

Health Expenditure

The United Kingdom spent 8.4% of GDP on health in 2007, a bit less than the OECD average of 8.9%. Spending per person is almost exactly the OECD average. A decade ago, it was 10% less than the OECD average.


  • Total health spending accounted for 8.4% of GDP in the United Kingdom in 2007, compared with an average of 8.9% across OECD countries. The United States (16.0%), France (11.0%) and Switzerland (10.8%) had high shares.
  • The United Kingdom closely matches the OECD average spending per person, with spending of 2992 USD in 2007 (adjusted for purchasing power parity). Per capita health spending over 1997-2007 grew in real terms by 4.9%, higher than the OECD average of 4.1%.
  • The public sector is the main source of health funding in all OECD countries, except Mexico and the United States. In the United Kingdom, 82% of health spending was funded by public sources in 2007, well above the average of 73% for OECD countries. 


  • Journalists are invited to contact the OECD’s Media Relations Division (tel.: 33 1 45 24 97 00 or [email protected]) to obtain a copy of OECD Health at a Glance 2009.
  • For further information about the content of OECD Health at a Glance 2009, please contact Mark Pearson (tel. 33 1 45 24 92 69 or [email protected]) or Gaétan Lafortune (tel. 33 1 45 24 92 67 or [email protected]) in the OECD Health Division.
  • More information on OECD Health at a Glance 2009 is available at
  • For information on OECD's work on the United Kingdom, please visit


Related Documents