The 2009 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey compared primary care services in 11 countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the UK and the US.
Reporting their findings, researchers said that practices from the UK ‘stand out throughout the survey for information capacity, a systemic approach to chronic care, and incentives to support improved performance'.
The UK performed well on measures of access to treatments, care for chronic conditions, out-of-hours access to services and the degree to which electronic medical records were used, they said.
The researchers suggest that policy makers could learn from studying the approaches taken in different countries. ‘Internationally, there is conceptual agreement but also a search for new models to advance primary care,' they said.
‘The variations in payment incentives, information systems, use of teams, and guidelines demonstrated in the survey reveal a rich basis for cross-national learning to inform and develop primary care models that use twenty-first-century technologies and skills creatively to yield better health outcomes and value,' they added.
Health secretary Andy Burnham, who is attending the Commonwealth Fund's 2009 international health symposium currently taking place in Washington DC, said that the results were an 'important moment for the NHS'.
'The journey to overhaul the quality of care over the last ten years has paid off,' he said. 'Clinicians now say they are confident they are treating and caring for patients in ways that match the best healthcare systems in the world. The NHS is not perfect but it has moved from poor to good and I want to see it go from good to great on the next stage of the journey.
'Primary care services are at the heart of the NHS, preventing illness, managing disease and helping people live healthier lives. I would like to pay tribute to the hard working NHS staff across the country and congratulate them for this magnificent achievement.'