Is the British National Health Service equitable? The evidence on socioeconomic differences in utilization

J Health Serv Res Policy. 2007 Apr;12(2):104-9. doi: 10.1258/135581907780279549.


Is the British National Health Service (NHS) equitable? This paper considers one part of the answer to this: the utilization of the NHS by different socioeconomic groups (SEGs). It reviews recent evidence from studies on NHS utilization as a whole based on household surveys (macro-studies) and from studies of the utilization of particular services in particular areas (micro-studies). The principal conclusion from the majority of these studies is that, while the distribution of use of general practitioners (GPs) is broadly equitable, that for specialist treatment is pro-rich. Recent micro-studies of cardiac surgery, elective surgery, cancer care, preventive care and chronic care support the findings of an earlier review that use of services was higher relative to need among higher SEGs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Family Practice / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / classification
  • Humans
  • Income / classification
  • Medicine / statistics & numerical data
  • Resource Allocation / ethics*
  • Social Justice*
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Specialization
  • Specialties, Surgical / statistics & numerical data
  • State Medicine / economics
  • State Medicine / ethics*
  • State Medicine / statistics & numerical data*
  • United Kingdom
  • Utilization Review