The Ipsos study for the Convention on Health Analysis and Management (CHAM) was carried out in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Italy.
When respondents were asked which country they believe had the best health system, France lagged far behind most of the others. Sweden was rated first, with 36 percent of respondents saying they believed Swedish healthcare to be the best.
That was followed by Germany (24 percent), Denmark (11 percent), the Netherlands (10 percent) and France, which came only just ahead of Poland with 9 percent.
France stood out for another reason: while most Europeans feel their health system had got worst over the last decade (only 21 percent of the respondents felt things have got better) the French were by far the most critical about their national healthcare – 59 percent said they believed the situation had got worse.
These are not just perceptions. The French health system has been struggling to cope over the past few years, with emergency hospital wards bulging with patients and parts of the country described as 'medical deserts' where there are no doctors at all.
To try and solve the crisis, last week the French government presented long-awaited reforms to modernize the current health system, which was recently described by the French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn as now being 'detrimental to the quality of service'.
Could the European Union provide solutions for improving these national health services? The study's respondents said they were sceptical about the EU's ability to improve them although they were favourable overall to increased collaboration within Europe, especially regarding medical research and training.
Despite such pessimism, the study showed that the French, along with the Germans and Dutch, still believe that their national healthcare system is much better than the European average.