French healthcare remains in good shape, with the lowest heart attack or stroke death rates in Europe and with the country being one of the few to increase health spending in 2014.
A biennial EU report into care provision across Europe, which also included non-EU states like Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Turkey, highlights several successes.
Average life expectancy in France remains impressive at 82.1 years, the third highest behind Spain (82.5 years) and Italy (82.4 years), and it also has Europe’s lowest mortality rates for heart attacks (86 per 100,000 people compared with 184 in the UK) and strokes (60 per 100,000 people compared with 74 in the UK).
France is the second highest spender (after Greece) on hospital expenses, which represent 38% of the healthcare budget – 4.4% of GDP.
The Netherlands spends the most per year on healthcare, at €3,839 per head, while France spends €3,220 and the UK €2,470. The average spend is €2,199. The lowest was Romania at €753 and Macedonia on €651.
At a time when many countries were cutting health spending, France increased expenditure by 0.8% compared with average cuts of 0.6% across Europe and 1.3% in the UK.
Overall, the biggest increase in European spending was 1.3% seen in Malta and Macedonia.
France is also a big spender when it comes to antibiotics, only lagging behind Greece, Cyprus and Belgium. Overall, the annual spend per head on pharmaceuticals is €469, against an average of €350 across all the 28 European countries in the Health at a Glance – Europe 2014 report. It has cut its use of antidepressant drugs, falling from third highest, to well under the average of 11%.
Each year 60,000 Europeans commit suicide but there are wide variations between countries.
There are eight times more in Lithuania (the highest suicide rate with more than 60 per 100,000 people) than in Cyprus (the lowest with fewer than 10 per 100,000). France is just over the average with around 30 suicides per 100,000.
In all countries, far more men committed suicide than women. However, overall, European suicide rates dropped 20% over the past decade