Objective: This article is an approach to assess the effectiveness of the health system in Spain using information from health care activities, the health status of the populations and the performance of health services, taken as a whole, and the standard patterns defined by geographical distribution and time trends.
Material and method: The most recent available data and historical series of basic indicators of general and premature mortality, hospital performance and avoidable mortality are used. Data has been aggregated by autonomous region and comes from official mortality and hospital statistics.
Results: All the indicators show the improvement experienced in all of the regions during the period analyzed. This evolution however, has not been homogeneous and the regions with the highest improvement are not always those which were in the worst situation at the base line. The results indicate the general idea that health services are responding well to the threats against the populations health, while this cannot be said with respect to public health policies.
Conclusions: The available data, as well as the indicators and the methods used are only useful to express a general idea about the health services effectiveness. It is necessary to evaluate to what extent non-efficacy treatments are still being used and effective treatments are being used inefficiently. To do that, different data and methodology, centred in specific cases or groups of diseases, is needed.