NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

CANCER TREATMENT NOT OK IN U.K.

November 14, 2007

International surveys have consistently shown that United Kingdom patients -- including cancer patients -- can expect worse outcomes than if they were citizens of other developed countries, says Andrew Haldenby, director of Reform, a London-based think tank specializing in public sector reform.

The five-yearly EUROCARE review was published in September.  It researched the proportion of patients in European countries that survive for five years after diagnosis, with the latest data being taken for 2002.  The review presented conclusive evidence that the United Kingdom performs more poorly than other developed countries.

According to an editorial appearing in Lancet Oncology, the United Kingdom's leading academic cancer journal:

  • The report shows survival for gastric, colorectal, lung, breast, ovarian, kidney and prostrate cancer in England is lower than the European average.
  • While survival has improved since recent years, other countries have improved at the same rate, so that the United Kingdom has continued to lag behind.
  • Survival rates in the United Kingdom are similar to some former communist countries that spend less than one-third of the U.K.'s per capita health care budget.

On the specific case of prostate cancer:

  • Fewer than 70 percent of U.K. men survived for five years after diagnosis.
  • This compared with 80 percent or more for Austria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

The lesson of U.K. health reform is to move away from socialized medicine, says Haldenby.  Our challenge is to provide guaranteed coverage and competition (on the continental European model) together with guaranteed individual rights for patients (as on the Continent and the United States).  The U.K. experience has profound lessons for reform-minded politicians in America and indeed in other developed countries -- particularly on what not to do.

Source: Andrew Haldenby, "Britain's National Health Service: Cancer Treatment Not OK In U.K.," Investor's Business Daily, November 13, 2007.

 

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