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U.K. Health Secretary: British, American Systems Can Learn From Each Other

BY Lea Winerman  November 4, 2009 at 3:15 PM EST

U.K. Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham

MP Andy Burnham, the U.K.’s health secretary, talks to the Online NewsHour about the country’s health care system.

Britain’s National Health Service employs some 1.3 million health care workers, and provides health care to all British residents. In the late 1990s Tony Blair’s Labor government began a series of reforms aimed at modernizing the NHS, which was founded in the wake of World War II. Some of those reforms included new standards for waiting times for surgeries and doctor visits, and establishing the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to evaluate the effectiveness of new drugs and treatments, among other changes.

Burnham took over the job of Secretary of State for Health in June. In Washington for a Commonwealth Fund conference, he discussed the challenges faced by the National Health System and what the U.K. and U.S. might learn from each other’s reform efforts.

To listen to a longer presentation by Mr. Burnham, as well as England’s Chief Medical Officer Liam Donaldson and Ara Darzi, an NHS surgeon and chair of surgery at Imperial College London, visit the Urban Institute Web site.