Scotland has more GPs than Wales and Northern Ireland

An uneven picture in health outcomes, spending, staffing and quality across the UK, according to a National Audit Office report.

David Cameron with doctors and nurses at Ealing Hospital, west London. Credit: Getty Images

There were 80 general practitioners in Scotland per 100,000 people in 2009, compared with 65 in Wales and Northern Ireland, according to a new report by the National Audit Office that found significant differences in health outcomes across the UK.

The report, Health Care Across the UK: a Comparison of the NHS in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, found that life expectancy varies significantly across the UK – from 75.9 in Scotland to 78.6 in England for men and from 80.4 in Scotland to 82.6 in England for women.

Spending per person on health services in 2010-2011 was higher in Scotland, with £2,072, than the other three areas.

In 2008-2009, the average lengths of stay in hospital varied from 4.3 days in England to 6.3 days in Wales. Hospital waiting times, meanwhile, have fallen in all four nations in recent years. According to the report, waiting times were lower in England and Scotland than in Northern Ireland and Wales during financial year 2009-2010.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said:

We publish this report at a time when the NHS across the UK is under increasing pressure to use resources more efficiently. Funding is tighter while the demand for healthcare continues to grow as a result of an ageing population and advances in drugs and technology.

We consider that there would be value in the health departments in the four nations carrying out further work to investigate the variations in performance and identify how they can learn from each other to achieve better value for money for taxpayers and better care for patients.

The report was carried out in collaboration with the Wales Audit Office and the Northern Ireland Audit Office. The fieldwork was carried out between September 2011 and May 2012.