UK & international comparisons
Health systems in the UK’s nations and regions and across the world face similar challenges, but each has different responses, with different strengths and weaknesses. We compare health care performance and policies, looking for the best new ideas and for evidence about where improvements could be made.
Health systems worldwide face many common challenges. We are examining global best practice and using this to inform UK policy and practice. The scope of our international work programme has increased in recent years, following research into European, US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and other health systems.
In particular, we have examined and continue to examine how international health systems have dealt with comparable financial challenges, as well as their experiences of organising and delivering health care services, especially with regards to new models of care.
We have expertise in examining international health systems and bringing back the lessons for the UK
Managing financial downturns
The need to make significant savings and to withdraw investment from existing services is a situation that other countries have faced, in some cases in response to previous economic crises.
We are examining the experiences of a number of other countries to try and understand the cost-shifting measures and budget reduction strategies they implemented, and the impact of those reductions on health care over time. Notable case studies that we have looked at include Canada, Germany and Japan.
Planning health care services
Handing control of commissioning budgets to groups of clinicians, overseen by an apolitical ‘commissioning board’, forms one of the most radical proposals set out by the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
We have brought international experience in this area to the attention of policy-makers and practitioners in the UK by tracking the development of medical groups with responsibility for purchasing health care services, both in the US and in New Zealand. Our aim continues to be to gain applicable insights for emerging clinical commissioning groups within the English NHS, as well as commissioners more generally throughout the UK.
Dr Donald Berwick, former President and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, on the progress of health reform in the US and the UK
A number of key projects are underway, including research that is examining the international experience of national health boards, which will aim to provide valuable insights to NHS England (formally the NHS Commissioning Board).
Funding and performance of health care systems in the UK
The health services of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all funded by the UK taxpayer, but since political devolution in 1999 they have developed different policies and systems of governance.
We have published a number of reports in recent years that have examined the impact of devolution on health care, with a major report in January 2010 assessing the differences in productivity across the UK health systems.
We are continuing our research in this area and are working in partnership with the Health Foundation to conduct a major analysis of the four health systems of the UK, assessing both the quality and productivity of care they are providing to patients.
Photo credit: GuySie, Flickr