Britain lags behind many of its European neighbours and ranks 30th in a global list of countries assessed for health care quality and access.
Experts who analysed death-rate data from 195 nations judged the UK to be on a par with the Czech Republic and Portugal.
The top-ranking country was the tiny principality of Andorra, which scored 94.6 overall on a scale of zero to 100.
At the bottom of the table, scoring just 29, was the Central African Republic.
The UK’s health care performance score of 84.6 was better than that of the US, which was awarded 81.3 points, putting it in 35th place.
But Britain was beaten by Finland, Sweden, Spain (all 90) and Italy (89), all of which have similar health systems to the NHS, said researchers.
The study, published in The Lancet medical journal, set out to assess the availability and quality of health care services worldwide from 1990 to 2015.
Researchers created a Healthcare Access and Quality (HAQ) index based on numbers of deaths from 32 causes that could be avoided by “timely and effective” medical care.
Professor Martin McKee, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who co-led the study, said: “The UK has made consistent progress since 1990, but with a score of 85, it now lags behind many of its European neighbours, including Finland, Sweden, Spain and Italy, all of which have health systems very similar to the British NHS and so are most directly comparable.
“The gap between what the UK achieves and what it would be expected to, given its level of development, is also wider than in other western European countries.”
A breakdown of specific causes of death showed that Britain did well in some areas.
The UK achieved a top score of 100 for treating common vaccine-preventable diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus and measles.
It also earned a high score of 88 for treating…