Poor NHS performance is responsible for more than 17,000 unnecessary deaths a year, a new study suggests.
The report by the TaxPayers' Alliance said that the figure is more than five times the number of people who died in road accidents and over two-and-a-half times the number who died from alcohol-related causes in 2004.
Researchers compared the UK with France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, and looked at "mortality amenable to healthcare" - which they defined as the number of deaths from certain conditions and at certain ages - that healthcare can reasonably be expected to avert.
The authors concluded that if the UK were to achieve the same level as the average of the other European countries, there would have been 17,157 fewer deaths in 2004, which is the most recent year for which data is available.
The report said an extra £34bn of spending on the NHS between 1999 and 2004 has made no difference to UK mortality.
Matthew Sinclair, author of the report and a policy analyst at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Billions of pounds have been thrown at the NHS but the additional spending has made no discernible difference to the long-term pattern of falling mortality.
"We need to learn lessons from European countries with healthcare systems that don't suffer from political management, monopolistic provision and centralisation."