UK outstrips US progress on treating preventable disease

The number of deaths from preventable diseases in the UK fell dramatically in the six years after a Labour government was elected in 1997, but the country still lags behind most of Europe.

A Commonwealth Fund-backed study into preventable deaths in 19 industrialised countries found that in 1997/8 130 deaths per 100,000 were preventable in the UK, placing the UK second to last, ahead only of Ireland.

By 2002/3 the UK rate had fallen to 103 per 100,000 deaths, a fall of more than 20 per cent.

The UK has closed the gap on France, which has the lowest rate of preventable deaths. But the UK rate remains nearly 60 per cent higher than the French toll of 65 preventable deaths per 100,000.

The worst performing nation over the period measured was the United States, which has the highest rate of preventable deaths of the 19 nations studied, with 110 per 100,000.

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