Britain lags far behind neighbouring European countries in a landmark study that ranks healthcare across the globe.
The NHS has the worst record in western Europe for patient care, set against the standards expected for a country this wealthy.
A damning report puts the UK near the bottom of the table for avoidable deaths from several types of cancer.
The study, published in health journal the Lancet, is the first to rank healthcare based on avoidable deaths from disease by comparing it to countries’ stage of development
It fares even worse in treating babies with neonatal conditions when compared to its closest neighbours.
Meanwhile, Peru and China are among others from the 195 countries ranked to have seen some of the greatest improvements since the 1990s.
The study, published in health journal the Lancet, is based on research from the University of Washington and Professor Martin McKee from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Professor McKee said the UK is performing well for some conditions, such as stroke treatment, but that our poor record on cancer was unsurprising.
He said: ‘We have known for a long time Britain has fewer specialists per head of population compared to other western European countries, and less investment in radiotherapy.’
The study is the first to rank healthcare based on avoidable deaths from disease by comparing it to countries’ stage of development.
Britain has a similar level of wealth and income to European countries such as Sweden, Spain and Italy, but fares worse in the rankings.
The gap between the UK’s healthcare quality score and the one expected is the lowest of any country in western Europe.
For avoidable neonatal deaths, the UK has a rate better than only Cyprus, while cervical cancer death rates are worse than those of Lebanon and Bahrain.
Britain also falls behind nine other western European countries on death rates for womb cancer, and six for testicular cancer. The rankings are lowest for Hodgkin lymphoma, leukaemia, skin and cervical cancer.
The UK is performing well for some conditions, such as stroke treatment, but we have a poor record on cancer
Senior author Professor Christopher Murray said: ‘Despite overall improvement globally ... few countries have consistently achieved optimal healthcare access and quality.’
The gap between the best and worst-performing countries has grown during the period from 1990 to 2015 investigated by the authors.
In 2015, on a scale of 0 to 100, Andorra, a tiny principality between France and Spain, had the highest score of 94.6. Central African Republic was the lowest at 28.6.
The UK has seen an improvement in its healthcare rating of 10.3 since 1990, placing it 30th worldwide.
However, the study says that ‘improvements recorded for countries including South Korea, Turkey and China highlight that much more rapid advances are possible’.
The Department of Health could not provide a statement during the pre-election period.