UK is 12th in European health league table
A league table of 19 European countries has shown the UK is lagging behind in terms of progress by similar countries on indicators for ill-health.
The research, published in the Lancet, looked at health data over 20 years.
It found average life expectancy in the UK has risen by four years in that time to 79.9 years, but the UK was not doing enough to tackle killers like heart disease and strokes because the premature death rate for men and women aged 20-54 had not changed.
The leading causes of death were heart disease, cancers and lung problems which are linked to smoking, alcohol use, high blood pressure and obesity – common problems in this country.
However health secretary Jeremy Hunt is planning to address these problems.
He said: ‘For too long we have been lagging behind and I want the reformed health system to take up this challenge and turn this shocking underperformance around.’
He added that the NHS is not good enough at preventing people from getting sick and that 30,000 lives a year could be saved if England performed as well as similar countries in Europe.