This analysis of the United Kingdom health system reports on the national health services in the four nations of the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales).
With devolution of responsibility for organizing health financing and services from 1997, the four nations in the United Kingdom have diverged in the details of how services are organized and paid for, but all have maintained a national health service which provide universal access to a comprehensive package of services that are mostly free at the point of use. Although the United Kingdom spends less on health when compared to many other Western European countries, the national health services function remarkably well, showing substantial improvements in major health indicators such as amenable mortality over the past decades. Yet there remains considerable room for further improvement, with a continued gap in health outcomes between the most deprived and the most privileged populations which continues to widen, rather than close.
Similar to other countries, the United Kingdom faces a number of key challenges which it needs to address to further its performance. These include those posed by an ageing population, coupled with a rising burden of chronic diseases, growing expectations and technological advances against a background of increasing financial constraints and the need to ensure that resources are spent efficiently.
The United Kingdom Health Systems in Transition (HiT) report was produced with support from the King's Fund.
HiT health system reviews are country-based reports that provide a detailed description of a country's health system and of reform and policy initiatives in progress or under development. More up-to-date information on many countries can be found on our Health Systems and Policy Monitor (HSPM).