The report identifies the extent to which variances exist between the four nations and where further examination may help determine those practices that could deliver better value for money. To set any differences between the nations in context and to provide additional comparators for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – in terms of similar population size and characteristics – we also report certain data for the nine English regions.
There are significant differences in health outcomes across the UK. For example, in 2008–2010, average life expectancy at birth varied for men from 75.9 in Scotland to 78.6 in England, and for women from 80.4 in Scotland to 82.6 in England. Similar disparities were also evident in healthy life expectancy and in 'standardised mortality ratios', which take account of the make-up of each nation's population in terms of age and gender. However, such measures of outcomes largely reflect general standards of public health – and therefore the need for healthcare – rather than the performance and effectiveness of the health services.