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Webinar: How does the NHS compare internationally? And what does it mean?

Wednesday 8 June 2022, 10.45–12.00

About 1 mins to read
Watch the webinar and download the slides below

Watch the recording

The English NHS is facing major challenges, including chronic staffing shortages and a growing backlog of unmet health care need. The reasons behind these issues are complex, including a decade of underinvestment in the health system and the ongoing effects of COVID-19.

The NHS is not alone in struggling to cope with disruption from COVID-19 and health systems across the world are facing challenges recovering services. But how does the NHS compare to health systems in other countries? Where do we perform well? What do we do less well? And what can we learn for NHS reform? International comparisons of health system performance are complex and frequently misused and misinterpreted.

In this webinar, we:

  • looked at the latest data on how the NHS performs compared to other countries
  • explored what the data can and can’t tell us about the strengths of different systems
  • considered the implications for NHS policy and government plans for reform. 


Tim Gardner is a Senior Policy Fellow at the Health Foundation.

Tim joined the Health Foundation in 2014. He works in the policy team, which works to analyse, understand, and inform national policies on health and social care in England.

Before he joined the Health Foundation, Tim spent over ten years at the Department of Health and Social Care working on policy and legislation in a variety of roles. This included work on NHS strategy, health and social care integration and the Government's response to the Francis Inquiry. Prior to that, he worked on NHS performance across a range of areas including primary care, cancer and mental health. He was also Secretary to the Departmental and NHS Management Boards and an Assistant Private Secretary to the Chief Medical Officer.

Tim has also spent time at NHS England and NHS Improvement, as well three years working on children's social care policy at the Department for Education. He has an MSc in Health Policy from Imperial College London.

A profile image of Tim Gardner

Mark Pearson is Deputy-Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs (ELS) at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 

Since 2009, he has led the Organisation’s work on health, demonstrating that a strong health system is essential for a strong, productive economy.  Through his leadership, the Organisation has focused helping countries develop effective policies to prevent harmful lifestyle choices; to modernise their health care workforce; and to digitalise the health sector more rapidly. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, he has supported countries in their crisis management, and led the OECD initiative on safe international mobility.

Before joining the OECD, Mr. Pearson was employed by the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London, and has been a consultant for the World Bank, the IMF and the European Commission.

Mark is British, and has a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford, and an MSc in Economics and Econometrics from Birkbeck, University of London.

headshot of Mark Pearson

Irene Papanicolas is Associate Professor of Health Economics in the Department of Health Policy. Irene’s research and teaching focuses on the performance assessment of health systems. Her research examines existing approaches used to measure and incentivize the performance of health services within health system, as well as the methodologies used to carry out international comparisons and benchmarking. Irene presented aspects of her work at the 2018 TEDMED conference. 

Irene publishes on these topics in leading medical journals, journals in Health Policy, Health Economics and quantitative methodology. She has also put out selected edited volumes and contributed to numerous book chapters around the measurement of health system performance and the assessment of health systems, published by Cambridge University Press, Open University Press. Many of these are available to download via the European Observatory on Health Systems. She has been principal or co-investigator on research projects exploring the international comparisons of Health Systems, funded by the Commonwealth Fund and the Health Foundation. She is currently co-investigator of the International Collaboration on Costs, Outcomes and Needs in Care (ICCONIC) Collaborative. Founded in 2018, the ICCONIC Collaborative consists of 12 partners from across North America, Europe and the Pacific who work together to understand patters of health service utilization, costs and outcomes for a clinically diverse group of high-need, high-cost patients.  

Irene is a Visiting Scientist at the Harvard T.H.Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and Management, where she was also based as a 2015-16 Harkness Fellow. Irene carries out numerous advisory roles and is also Associate Editor of the Journal Health Policy.



Hugh joined the Health Foundation in 2018. He leads the Foundation’s policy team, which works to analyse, understand, and inform national policies on health and social care in England.

Before he joined the Health Foundation, Hugh was a Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice at the University of California, San Francisco, and Berkeley. Hugh’s research in the US focused on health system approaches to addressing patients’ social and economic needs, like unstable housing and food insecurity.

Before that, Hugh worked at The King’s Fund as Senior Policy Adviser to the Chief Executive, where he published research and policy analysis on a range of topics, including national NHS reforms, integration of health and social care services, and opportunities for health systems to improve population health. He also provided policy advice to the NHS and government.

Hugh has also worked as a management consultant at PwC, working on health policy and improvement, and on Sir John Oldham’s Independent Commission on Whole Person Care.

Hugh Alderwick, Harkness Fellow and Assistant Director of Policy at the Health Foundation

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