Vanderbilt University researchers have found that the average person in the UK spends £1,400 on health care each year, which is £16 less than the average family income in the United States.
But they have also found that people with lower incomes spend less on health in the capital, with a single person spending £14 more on health than someone in the top third of earners.
Key points:Researchers say a single health care provider costs more than a family of four in the city of LondonIn a study from the University of Bristol, researchers have concluded that people in the City of London spend more than £1 billion each year on healthcare and are only £1 less likely to have a full-time job than those living in the rest of the UKThe study, published in the journal Social Indicators Research, looked at data from more than 1,500 adults aged between 25 and 64 in the south of England and the north of England in 2010.
The researchers used a “cost-based” model to estimate the average cost of a single provider in the three areas.
They found that a single individual provider in London cost the city’s residents £14,200 per year, with that figure rising to £24,800 for people in rural areas.
The cost-based model was used to calculate how much more people in England, Scotland and Wales would pay if they had the same access to a single carer.
However, the authors also said that the number of people accessing healthcare was higher in London than in the other regions because of the wider range of services offered in the area.
In contrast, the researchers said that while people in London would pay more than those in the north, it was not clear whether it would be as much as those in other regions.
Professor Martin Baker, who led the research team, said the results showed that there was a real gap in the provision of health services in London.
“What we’re seeing is the people in our study living in London have access to better quality care than people in other parts of the country,” he said.
“In terms of the proportion of people who are in need of hospital treatment, it is quite high in London and quite low in other areas.
The problem is, we have a relatively high number of NHS hospital beds, and so we are having to spend a lot of money to keep them going.
If we don’t spend more, we’re going to get more of these things happening, and we’re not getting it on the NHS.”
Mr Baker said the study showed that if health spending in London continued to fall, it could cause a further shortfall in funding for care for people with conditions such as diabetes and heart conditions.
Dr Joanna Lyle from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said the report showed that people living in urban areas in the South of England were more likely to experience high costs of health care than those who lived in the North.
“There are different types of inequalities in the NHS that we haven’t talked about, but we do have to be mindful of the fact that those living outside London are also spending more on healthcare than people living on the outskirts of the city,” she said.
Dr Lyle said the findings were important because they could be used to inform decisions about whether to increase spending on health services.
She said the authors had also highlighted a lack of affordable access to specialist health services for patients in poorer areas, and warned that funding for those areas was likely to remain “limited” in future years.
NHS funding cuts and the rise in chronic conditionsThe authors of the study, Dr Lyle and Dr Baker, said there was no clear cause and effect relationship between the two factors.
“It is a complicated topic, and it depends on the type of inequality, but there are clearly some things that we can do to improve access to healthcare,” Dr Baker said.
“So the more money we get, the better it is for people.”
Dr Lyla said she was pleased to see the study had revealed a significant gap in health spending across the city.
“It’s a problem that’s been a long time coming,” she told the ABC.
Ms Lyle noted that although the number who were unable to afford to have their conditions treated in a hospital had been reduced by around half over the last 10 years, people with chronic conditions were still more likely than the general population to face delays in accessing treatment.
“The NHS is spending a lot on hospital beds and care, so it’s good that we’re getting to a point where the system can cope with more people, but it’s still going to be a very, very challenging time for those with chronic health conditions,” she added.
More to come.