A new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has some troubling news for the United Kingdom: its health care system is one of the worst in the developed world for cancer survival rates.
While access to care is “generally good” the quality of care in the UK is “poor to mediocre” across several key health areas, obesity levels are “dire” and the NHS struggles to get even the “basics” right, the report said citing a lack of investment over the last six years.
Britain was placed on a par with Chile and Poland as countries still lagging behind the best performers in survival following diagnosis for different types of cancer. The UK came 21st out of 23 countries on cervical cancer survival, 20th out of 23 countries on breast and bowel cancer survival and 19th out of 31 countries on stroke.
While survival after hospital admission for heart attack and stroke is improving it is “worse than many other OECD countries” including Canada, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, the 220-page study said. The UK is ranked 20th out of 32 countries on heart attack deaths.
Despite these statistics, the NHS remains a point of pride for many British citizens, and was even featured prominently in the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
It's likely that one of the reasons why the UK's cervical cancer survival rates are so low is that women are not offered cancer-detecting pap smears until the age of 25. Buzzfeed reported last year about a woman who died from cervical cancer after being told she was "too young" for a pap smear. She was 24 when she began exhibiting symptoms, yet was denied a screening. This practicing of rationing off care may save the government money, but it clearly isn't saving lives.