At a time when NHS funding is being squeezed and both GP (primary care) and hospital services are coming under huge pressure, it is worth looking at a comparison of healthcare systems in the UK, US and France.
While France enjoys a slightly longer life expectancy than the UK, it spends 12.5% of its GDP on healthcare (£3000 per head) compared to 9.4% (£2190 per head) in the UK. France has 6.4 hospital beds per 1000 of the population (of which 65% are privately funded) compared to 3 beds per 1000 in the UK (where only 15% of beds are privately funded). 49% of French doctors are GPs compared to 30% of UK doctors.
In stark comparison, the US (whose healthcare system we risk emulating) has the shortest life expectancy despite spending 17.2% of its GDP on healthcare. Only 12.3% of US doctors are GPs.
A solution to the current NHS crisis will require many approaches. Ongoing disruption of the world's most cost efficient health service increases healthcare costs. Administrative costs now account for 30% of NHS spending. Some of that spending needs to be clawed back and spent on the frontline. An urgent priority now is to support and strengthen GPs who form the backbone of the NHS.