OECD Reviews of Health Care Quality: United Kingdom 2016 Raising Standards

Mental health

Health systems in the United Kingdom have, for many years, made the quality of care a highly visible priority, internationally pioneering many tools and policies to assure and improve the quality of care. A key challenge, however, is to understand why, despite being a global leader in quality monitoring and improvement, the United Kingdom does not consistently demonstrate strong performance on international benchmarks of quality.

This report reviews the quality of health care in the England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, seeking to highlight best practices, and provides a series of targeted assessments and recommendations for further quality gains in health care. To secure continued quality gains, the four health systems will need to balance top-down approaches to quality management and bottom-up approaches to quality improvement; publish more quality and outcomes data disaggregated by country; and, establish a forum where the key officials and clinical leaders from the four health systems responsible for quality of care can meet on a regular basis to learn from each other’s innovations.



This report rightly acknowledges that our members across the UK have a clear and consistent commitment to improving the quality of care for patients. While all four nations share this common goal, the different systems in each country have been designed to best suit the needs and challenges of their own populations.  

The OECD’s investigations have confirmed that it is not possible to look across the health systems in Northern Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland and identify one system to be better than another. 

Instead what comes out strongly for England in particular is how our members need support from central government and regulators to drive up standards across the health service but that this must be balanced with empowering local leaders, and staff to drive and lead change for the benefit of patients. 

Our members should be enabled to make radical change driven by the needs of local people. By delivering proactive, joined up care closer to people’s homes, we can help people to stay well, and allow hospitals to focus on treating the people that need to be there.”

Dr Johnny Marshall, Director of Policy, NHS Confederation

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