FOR THE AVERAGE physician in the United Kingdom (UK), a patient with painful, deformed joints may have rheumatism. But cross the English Channel into France, and the diagnosis becomes maladie de Bouillaud. Likewise, a UK physician who interprets l'hippocratisme digital as pointing a finger at the father of medicine would miss the diagnosis of clubbing of the fingers.
Throughout history, France and the United Kingdom (comprising England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland) have been noted more for their differences than their similarities. After all, few would mistake filet de boeuf au poivre for bangers and mash, or stout ale for a rich Burgundy. Yet as European nations form a strengthened European Union, French and UK health officials are beginning to compare their health care delivery systems to determine whether common solutions exist for common problems.