71% of European Union (EU) citizens say the overall quality of healthcare in their home country is good, although satisfaction levels vary dramatically across the 28 member states, from a high of 97% in Belgium to just 25% in Romania, says a new Eurobarometer survey.

And 85% of people in the UK believe their healthcare quality is good, a drop of 1% since 2009 when Eurobarometer last asked EU citizens these questions.

The biggest increase in satisfaction over this period is in Lithuania, whose 65% positive rating has risen 25% on 2009’s result. Hungary’s 47% satisfaction rate is up 19%, while Malta’s has increased 13% to 94%. Portugal’s “good” rating has also risen 13%, but to only 55%, while Latvia’s 10% improvement brings it to just 47%.

Satisfaction rates in France and Slovakia have both dropped 3%, to 88% and 50% respectively, and are down 4% in both Spain, to 77%, and Sweden, at 86%. 

Overall, in only five nations – France, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and the UK – have public opinions of the overall quality of their country’s healthcare worsened.

Asked to compare the quality of healthcare in their own country with that in other member states, 34% said that it is better in their country. The largest percentages of people holding this view were in: Belgium – 67%; Germany – 61%; Austria – 60%; Netherlands – 55%; France – 54%; Finland – 51%; Denmark – 46%; Spain – 44%; Luxembourg – 41%; Sweden - 37%; and UK – 36%, the latter showing a dip of 2% compared to 2009.

Countries showing the biggest increase in believing the quality of care in their own countries to be better were Germany and Lithuania, both up 8%, while the largest declines in citizens holding this opinion were in Sweden, down 6%, and Slovakia, dropping 7%.

27% of EU citizens overall think that healthcare quality in their country is the same as in other EU states, with notable increases in people holding this view in Hungary (+11%), Malta (+8%), Poland and Latvia (both up 6%).

And 25% believe that healthcare quality is worse at home than elsewhere. Since 2009, there has been a 5% increase in people holding this view in Cyprus and Romania, but the numbers believing this have declined 18% in Latvia, 17% in Lithuania, 14% in Hungary and 9% in Portugal.

And when asked to name up to three criteria which they associated with high-quality healthcare, respondents’ top choices were well-trained staff (53%), treatment that works (40%) and modern medical equipment (25%). They also considered “cleanliness” to be as important as “no waiting lists,” while 24% cited “proximity of hospital and doctor,” says Eurobarometer.