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United kingdom healthcare system overview


This is a devolved matter meaning England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales each have their own systems of private and publicly funded healthcare. Each region has different policies and priorities.

Each country also provides public healthcare to United Kingdom’s permanent residents that is free at the point of need, being paid for from general taxation. Each also has a private healthcare sector that is smaller than the public sector with provision of private healthcare acquired by direct payment by customer or through private healthcare insurance.

The World Health Organization in 2000 ranked the provision of healthcare in the U.K. as 15th best in Europe and 18th in the world. U.K. performed best overall and best in many categories when this report was updated in 2014, when comparisons were extended to include 11 countries.

8.4% of United Kingdom’s gross domestic product comes from healthcare. Most healthcare is provided by the National Health Service which accounts for most of the Department of Health’s budget (£98.6 billion in 2008/09). The actual delivery of healthcare services is managed by ten Strategic Health Authorities.

The National Health Service constitution covers the rights and obligations of patients and staff, many of which are legally enforceable. The National Health Service has a high level of popular public support within the country. It uses General practitioners to provide primary healthcare and to make referrals to further services as necessary.

Opinions however differ among beneficiaries whereby a higher percentage is seen to appreciate the Service’s role in general and not their individual/local provider. This may imply that there is a gap in delivery of services in the grassroots.

Pharmacies (other than those within hospitals) are privately owned but have contracts with the relevant health service to supply prescription drugs. All aspects of healthcare have been put into consideration by the government and therefore the public is healthier than ever.


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