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What the NHS can learn from Australia

Doctors in Australia earn at least 50% more than they do in the UK. Getty

Australia is leagues apart from Britain when it comes to healthcare, says Rohan Silva in The Times. Among developed countries, it has the best survival rates for the most common cancers; we have the worst. It’s a similar story for infant mortality, maternal mortality and avoidable deaths in general. This disparity isn’t down to money: Australia spends 9% of GDP on healthcare, less than the UK’s 10%. It’s because of the “radically different way” the Aussie system is structured.

Healthcare is funded centrally, with treatment free for the poor and subsidised for the better off. But rather than it being delivered centrally like it is with the NHS, patients choose their own providers, who are thus forced to raise standards in order to attract custom. Higher earners are expected to buy private health insurance “to ease the burden on the state”, and get taxed more if they don’t. And unlike in the US, insurers cannot discriminate against people because of age or long-term medical conditions. This system is better not just for patients, but also for health workers: doctors earn at least 50% more than they do in the UK; nurses, sometimes double. If anyone does ever get around to reforming the NHS, Australia “shows what a better, and fairer, way forward might look like”.