There is no place that provides better care to its old people than Britain, new research shows.
Out of 80 countries worldwide, the UK achieved an overall highest score for end-of-life care based on quality of hospitals, staff numbers, hospice environments and affordability of care.
The study by the Economist Intelligence Unit gave it 93.9 out of 100, and put Australia in second place with a score of 91.6.
But these were the only two countries that scored a number over 90, and overall only 34 out of 80 nations looked at were rated as having what could be considered good end-of-life care. Even France and the US fell quite a long way behind the UK.
The reason for the UK's high position, according to the researchers, was a combination of its “comprehensive national policies, the extensive integration of palliative care into the NHS, a strong hospice environment and deep community engagement on the issue”.
That said, a clear division between the level of palliative care provided in richer, western countries and the rest of the world became apparent. In the report, the researchers said:
In general, income levels are a strong indicator of the availability and quality of palliative care, with wealthy countries clustered at the top. Australia and New Zealand take second and third place, as they did in 2010, while rich European and Asian countries dominate the top 20, along with the US in 9th place and Canada in 11th.
At the very bottom of the list came Iraq with 12.5 per cent, followed by Bangladesh and the Philippines. China, with its rapidly ageing population, also came in the bottom 10 with 23.3.