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  • Public perceptions of the NHS: a winter of discontent (The Health Foundation, 23 February 2022)

    • UK
    • Reports and articles
    • Pre-existing
    • Original author
    • No
    • Luisa Buzelli, Skeena Williamson, Tim Gardner et al
    • 23/02/23
    • Everyone


    How does the public view the state of the health and care service? After political turmoil in Westminster, do people think the Government has the policies to set the NHS on the right course? With the health service under so much strain, do people remain committed to its founding principles?

    This long read by The Health Foundation presents its analysis of public perceptions research conducted with Ipsos that tracks the public’s views on health and social care in the UK every six months. The survey was conducted via Ipsos’ UK KnowledgePanel between 24 and 30 November 2022, with 2,063 people aged 16 and older across the UK.


    Key points

    • The NHS is under extreme strain and debate about the future of the health system is growing louder. As political parties look ahead to the next general election, understanding what the public thinks should help inform thinking on NHS funding and reform.
    • The survey found that the public is deeply negative about the state of the NHS. Only a third (33%) agree that the NHS is providing a good service nationally, while nearly half (47%) disagree.
    • 63% think the general standard of care has deteriorated in the last 12 months, while just 7% think it has improved. Expectations for the next 12 months are similarly pessimistic: 62% think NHS standards will decline, while 9% expect standards to improve.
    • Across the UK, just 10% think the national government responsible for the NHS where they live has the right policies for the NHS. In England, only 8% think the UK government has the right policies for the health service – compared to 28% in Scotland and 19% in Wales who think their devolved governments have the right approach.
    • But the public has clear priorities for the future: addressing the pressure on or workload of NHS staff (40%), increasing the number of staff in the NHS (39%) and improving waiting times for routine services (35%) are their top priorities for the NHS.
    • Support for the founding principles of the NHS remains as strong as ever. Most people still believe that the principles of the NHS being free at the point of delivery (90%), providing a comprehensive service (89%) and being funded through taxation (84%) should continue to apply today. But they are less sure whether these principles will remain intact in 5 years’ time.
    • While both main parties have so far preferred to talk about reforming the health service rather than tax rises or spending increases, 82% of the public think the NHS needs an increase in funding, including 63% of Conservative voters.
    Public perceptions of the NHS: a winter of discontent (The Health Foundation, 23 February 2022) https://www.health.org.uk/publications/long-reads/public-perceptions-of-the-nhs-a-winter-of-discontent
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