Survey points to postcode lottery in health spending

NHS postcode lottery grows as the amount spent per head on health and social care is 17 per cent less in England than in Scotland, according to official figures.

The findings highlighted the big differences in how long patients have to wait for non-emergency operations – a practice that has led to complaints that the health service is operating a “post code lottery”.

Smoking among children in 2006, however, was “at its lowest level in over 10 years”, according to the latest health and healthcare figures for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland published by the Office for National Statistics.

All four countries had reduced waiting times for “common operations”. But these still “varied widely” between the nations, it said.

Some 90 per cent of patients requiring cataract surgery in 2006 were admitted to hospital within 166 days in England. This compared with 172 days in Northern Ireland, 146 days in Scotland and 25 in Wales.

For hip replacements, 90 per cent of patients were admitted within 221 days in Scotland, 223 in England, 337 in Northern Ireland and 367 in Wales.

Deaths from heart disease were highest in Scotland, killing 168 men and 87 women per 100,000 of population compared with 137 and 64 in England.

England may account for 82 per cent of the £119bn UK budget spent on health and social care, but at £1,915 the spend per head of population lagged behind £2,096 per person in Northern Ireland, £2,109 in Wales and £2,313 in Scotland.

Men in England could expect to live an average of 68 years in good health, compared with 66 years in Scotland. English women could expect an average of 71 years in good health compared with 68 in Wales.

Scotland also had the highest death rate related to drug poisoning, with 17 deaths for males and six for females per 100,000 population, while Northern Ireland had the lowest rate for males at six deaths per 100,000 and England the lowest rate for females at three deaths.

The average life expectancy for UK males of 77 years was slightly above the European Union average of 76. Life expectancy for UK females at 81 was slightly below the EU average of 82.


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