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Healthcare in the United Kingdom


Healthcare delivery systems are aimed at resolving health problems and meeting the needs of the population, which makes research on this subject particularly valuable for assessment and improvement of healthcare quality. The search strategy for this paper involved keyword research among sources not older than five years. The purpose of this paper is to examine healthcare in the United Kingdom, providing recent data and covering the main issues in this area.

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The United Kingdom is an island country located in Western Europe. Its population accounts for over 67.8 million, and life expectancy is about 81.8 years (“United Kingdom demographics,” 2020). High-quality standards have always been one of the primary considerations for the UK; therefore, political decisions in the healthcare field have also been quality-led and “reliant upon transparency and regulation” (OECD, 2016, p.53). The complexity of health care delivery in the UK is partly due to the existence of four health systems, as each country developed its own policy. The National Health Service (NHS) consists of NHS England, NHS Scotland, Health and Social Care (HSC) Northern Ireland, and NHS Wales. Although the predominant medical care model in the UK is public, private healthcare is also available.

Main body

As to the financing, the NHS is publicly-funded, the primary source of finance is general taxation, the supplementary source is National Insurance contributions, which makes the British healthcare system rather different from others. One of the primary challenges for every healthcare system is the distribution of finance (Bodenheimer & Grumbach, 2016). According to OECD (2016), the UK spends 8.5% GDP on healthcare, which approaches the OECD average of 8.9%. In general, all four health systems presented in the UK are committed to the constant improvement of the medical care delivery quality.

The National Health Service delivers a variety of services free of cost, ranging from GP services and dental care to urgent and emergency care. The NHS also offers insurance for the population, covering most of the health care needs. However, there are some issues related to access to care. As reported by OECD (2016), the improvements that need to be made include simplifying the system of institutions and policies at the national level and ensuring more transparency and reporting to the people. Primary care in the UK, just like in many other countries, serves as the first step for providing further medical service. The ratio of physicians to population is 2.8 per one thousand people which is below average in Europe; the percentage of general practitioners in the country is about 20% of all medical staff (OECD, 2016). The UK tends to continually monitor and improve the implemented healthcare measures, but some aspects need more attention to ensure the high quality and accessibility of medical care.

The British health system continues to establish many quality initiatives. For example, England developed clinical guidelines and started to conduct patient surveys; Scotland initiated training programs and now tries to integrate health and social care (OECD, 2016). The level of population satisfaction with the quality of care provided by the NHS is rather high. The citizens point out the range of treatments available, staff behavior, and free-of-charge-basis.


In conclusion, the main aspects of the healthcare system in the UK are covered in this paper. The recent data indicates that the quality of medical treatment in the United Kingdom remains the principal objective and the National Health Service generally provides a treatment that meets the needs of the population. However, such aspects as accessibility can be improved, and promising initiatives that exist on the country level can be implemented on the national level in the UK, resulting in a better quality of healthcare delivery.


Bodenheimer, T., & Grumbach, K. (2016). Understanding Health Policy: A Clinical Approach (7th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.

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OECD (2016). OECD Reviews of Health Care Quality: United Kingdom 2016: Raising Standards. OECD Reviews of Health Care Quality, OECD Publishing, Paris. Web.

United Kingdom demographics. (n.d.). Web.

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