Healthcare workers are the backbone of a healthy and productive society. In economies worldwide, the proportion of GDP that is invested in a country's healthcare system is a stark indicator of the value it places on the well-being of its citizens. As the coronavirus pandemic unfolds, it’s revealing deep inequalities at the heart of even the richest economies on the planet.
There are huge variations in the amount OECD countries invest in their healthcare systems. The United States invests the most at £8,473 per capita, followed by Switzerland which invests £5,856 (-34% less). In comparison, the UK invests just £3,257 per capita, 18th in the OECD despite being the fifth largest economy in the world. While hospital nurses, general practitioners and emergency physicians in the UK do earn more than the national average, this does not account for their overtime hours. In 2019, 43.4% of NHS workers reported working up to 5 hours of unpaid overtime every week, and these figures are likely to have surged drastically due to the current pandemic. The OECD Healthcare Salary Index is a study released in response to the coronavirus pandemic and an attempt to make sense of the statistics through the lens of healthcare investment. It ranks the 36 countries in the OECD according to the salaries they pay to their frontline healthcare workers, including general practitioners, nurses, and emergency physicians. Luxembourg ranks first in the OECD overall, with hospital nurses earning over £73,000 on average, almost double that of nurses in the UK, and general practitioners earning over £213,000, 40% higher than those in the UK. The following table reveals the full list of salaries earned by frontline healthcare professionals across the OECD, as well as the bonuses announced by the governments to reward them for their hard work during the pandemic. Only bonuses announced for one or all types of frontline workers in this study were taken into consideration.
Health expense GDP
Percentage of GDP
Yearly gross avg per capita
Avg salary PPP
Yearly gross average salary Purchasing Power Parity per capita
On healthcare per capita
General Practitioner avg salary
General Practitioner average salary Purchasing Power Parity
Hospital nurses average salary
Hospital nurses average salary Purchasing Power Parity
Emergency physician average salary
Emergency physician average salary Purchasing Power Parity
Download the full table here. This study uncovered the overall health expenditure and salaries of medical professionals across the 36 countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The salaries of medical professionals - general practitioners, nurses, and emergency physicians - were included in the final ranking.All salaries were converted to Purchasing Power Partity (PPP) to allow for an international comparison. To calculate the ranking, the average salaries for each country were added together and standardised from 0 to 100. The data for this study was obtained from the OECD Healthcare Resources Database and the Economic Research Institute Global Salary Calculator. Download the full methodology here.
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