Bike riding in London

Britons over the age of 50 are signifcantly healthier than their American counterparts

Middle-aged Britons are healthier than those in America but die earlier because the British healthcare system is much worse, a report has found.  NHS treatment of tumors, heart attacks and strokes is too ‘conservative’ and not as ‘aggressive’ as in the U.S. where more lives are saved as treatment is given sooner and with less consideration of cost.


Britons over the age of 50 are significantly healthier than their American counterparts, but they are 5 per cent less likely to live to the age of 80.

They have far lower levels of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, mainly because obesity rates are not as high, a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found.

But the authors say the U.S. healthcare system is more effective at diagnosing potentially fatal diseases and treating them early.

And they say national cancer screening programs, such as that in place in the U.S. for prostate cancer, have drastically improved survival rates.

The study, carried out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and RAND Corporation research centre in Los Angeles, found that cancer rates in England for those aged 50 to 80 were 6.6 per cent, less than half the rate for the U.S. which was 13.7 per cent.

In the same age group rates of heart disease were 14.6 per cent in England, compared to 25.4 per cent in the U.S., while diabetes levels were 8.13 per cent in England compared to 14.6 per cent in the U.S.

Once they reach the age of 80, men in the U.S. will live for an average of 7.6 years compared to English men, who will live for 7.1 years. Similarly 80-year-old women can expect to live for 9.1 years in America, compared to just 8.72 years in England.

The authors acknowledged the UK spends far less on healthcare – the NHS comprises just 7.2 per cent of GDP compared to the American healthcare system which takes up 16 per cent of GDP.

And critics warned vast sums of the NHS budget is wasted on bureaucracy rather than being spent on patient care.

James Smith, chair in labour markets and demographic studies at RAND, said: ‘This report isn’t a condemnation of the NHS. It’s just saying how countries make their healthcare systems work.

‘Sometimes there’s a let it happen attitude. Treatment of illnesses is much more aggressive in the U.S. than the UK. Doctors would refer to it as a conservative approach and want to simply get rid of the problem – such as removing a tumour immediately even if it turns out to be benign. The downside is that this costs the U.S.’

Last year a highly critical report by the Organisation for Economic Co-orporation and Development ranked the NHS alongside health services in Poland and the Czech Republic, far below those in France, Sweden and Germany.

Via Daily Mail