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The United Kingdom Health Care System: Views and Experiences of Adults with Health Problems


United Kingdom


The Commonwealth Fund 2002 International Health Policy Survey of adults with health problems in five nations finds that the U.K. health system is notable for its lack of financial barriers to needed care. Adults with health problems in the U.K. were far less likely than their counterparts in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or the United States to forgo needed medical care due to costs or say that costs of medical care were a major burden. Yet, U.K. adults were more likely than their counterparts in other countries to indicate missed opportunities to discuss treatments or concerns with their doctors. Adults in the U.K. also reported difficulties seeing specialists and problems with waiting times and shortages.

Like their counterparts in other countries, U.K. adults with health problems are at risk for medical or medication errors. More than one of six (18%) believe a medical mistake or medication error was made in their personal care in the past two years. The majority of those reporting an error said the error had caused serious health problems. U.K. reported error rates, however, were generally lower than rates reported in the other four countries.

Publication Details

Publication Date: May 1, 2003

The United Kingdom Health Care System: Views and Experiences of Adults with Health Problems, Cathy Schoen, Deirdre Downey, Catherine DesRoches et al, The Commonwealth Fund, May 2003


Catherine DesRoches
Executive Director, Open Notes, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School
Senior Scholar in Residence, New York Academy of Medicine