UK Healthcare System and Comparison With the US Healthcare System

Life expectancy at birth is 77.4 for both men and women in the UK in 1997 (European Observatory on Health Care systems, 1999). The National Health Service has the principle of collective responsibility for a comprehensive health service. The key feature is that it is free at the point of use for the whole population. Emphasis is on equality of access. Professional autonomy is restricted to a few concessions. Ample funding is provided for the concept of General hospital. A single-tier system is established with an emphasis on primary care. Three sections operate under the Secretary of State for Health: Permanent Secretary, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Executive. The Departmental and Resources Group, Social Care Group, Nursing group and the Research and Development group all come under the Permanent Secretary (European Observatory on Health Care systems, 1999). The Chief Medical officer gives an expert opinion. Public Health has a different Minister.

Primary care is delivered by the general practitioners and the community nurses. 24-hour access is possible. The GPs make referrals to the hospital specialists (European Observatory on Health Care systems, 1999). Practice nurses, district nurses, midwives and health visitors provide primary care. Health authorities pursue population-based public health strategies. The immunization rate is 93%. Social care is the “long-term care in nursing homes for mental illness, people with learning difficulties and elderly people” (European Observatory on Health Care systems, 1999). Care in the community is the policy for the past three decades for mental illness and learning difficulties. Quality standards are maintained.

A socialized health care system is President Obama’s suggestion (King, 2009). At the present US is the only developed country that does not follow this system. Cost and access to healthcare are major issues that can hopefully be addressed by the change. The system is not free to the user as in the UK (King, 2009). Users need to have the backing of insurance for their services as the US healthcare system is a privatized one. The high cost of insurance which even then does not cover all of the treatment costs makes many people opt out of treatment. The socialized healthcare system hopefully would change these issues and make the services accessible to all (King, 2009).


King, B. (2009). Health care systems’ overview and why the US needs change. Web.

European Observatory on Health Care systems (1999) Health care systems in transition , UK. Web.

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