Countries such as Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain had child death rates higher in 1979 than the UK’s but are now all substantially lower. If the UK had the same average rate of the 17 countries with lower CMR, then there would have been 1,827 fewer child deaths in 2010.
Professor Colin Pritchard of Bournemouth University, who led the research, said, "The poverty aspect is a matter of shame, as the five countries with the highest CMR also have the worst income inequality, including the UK, whilst the four countries with the lowest child deaths have the least poverty. Scandal is not usually a term used by academics but this study should be a wake-up call for society as the excess in British child mortality is an indictment of one of the richest but most unequal countries in the world."
By that, Pritchard means the UK has the joint lowest funded health care provision by percentage of GDP in the Western world and the third worst income inequality. Health care funding will come as a surprise to some progressives in America, who routinely insist that the USA should adopt the UK's NHS system.
Over the period studied, Britain's NHS was the third joint lowest funded health service in terms of percentage of GDP spent. Greece, Italy, Portugal spend proportionately more of their wealth on health and have lower deaths than the UK.
Pritchard added that the funding is the issue, not the doctors themselves - much like America, where critics are quick to note that people from all over the world may fly to America for the best treatment, they don't come for the health care, “In terms of cost-effectiveness in reducing deaths, the NHS was the 8th best so you cannot blame the NHS, who achieve more with relatively less.”
Citation: Pritchard C & Wallace MS (2014) Comparing UK and Other Western countries Health Expenditure, Poverty and Child Mortality: Are British children doubly disadvantaged?, Children & Society, doi:10:1111/ CHSO12079
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