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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 June, 2005, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
UK health ranked ninth in Europe
Surgeons in theatre
The organisation looked at healthcare across Europe
The standard of healthcare in the UK has been ranked ninth in a comparison of 12 European countries.

The Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany came top - with only Hungary, Italy and Poland rated lower than the UK.

The survey was compiled by Health Consumer Powerhouse, a private health think-tank based in Sweden.

It ranked the UK top for health information, but overall, services were described as "mediocre".

France, which has often come top of health polls, was ranked sixth.

Netherlands - 48/60
Switzerland - 47
Germany - 46
Sweden - 40
Belgium - 40
Estonia - 40
France - 39
Spain - 37
UK - 36
Hungary - 35
Italy 29
Poland - 25

The analysis took into account 20 indicators in five areas - patients' rights and information, waiting times for common treatments, care outcomes, customer friendliness and access to medication.

Information was obtained from organisations such as the World Health Organization and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and by talking to patient and professional groups.

The UK was awarded 36 points out of 60.

'Doing well'

The report summary concludes: "A mixed performance is showed by the UK, which wins out on healthcare information, but waiting lists and uneven quality performance drags down the overall score."

"In Southern Europe, Spain and Italy do provide excellent healthcare services."

But it added: "Real excellence seems to be a bit too dependent on the consumer's ability to afford private healthcare as a supplement to public healthcare for these countries to reach top scores.

"The three new Central European EU member states of Poland, Hungary and Estonia are doing surprisingly well, considering their much smaller healthcare spend as a percentage of GDP [Gross Domestic Product].

"However, readjusting from planned to consumer-driven economies does take time."

A spokeswoman for the UK's Department of Health said: "We do not accept the claims from this organisation.

"It appears that many of the conventional indicators used by established organisations like the OECD to measure the performance of different health systems, such as life expectancy, have been ignored to come up with this league table."

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