latest health care news

02.06.17

Concern for NHS hits highest level since 2002 a week before election

The number of people who identify the NHS as the biggest problem facing the UK at the moment has shot up from last month, the final Ipsos MORI index released before the general election has revealed.

The data found that 61% of people stated that the NHS is one of the biggest issues facing Britain. In February this figure stood at 49%, and it is also a 13-percentage point rise from last month’s figures.

This is the highest level of concern since April 2002 – and sixteen percentage points higher than the proportion who said Brexit was one of the biggest issues.

The NHS was also an issue for people across a range of age and social demographics. The health service was an issue for 70% of those on social grades AB (upper and middle-class people), whilst 57% of 18-34 year olds identified it as a problem, with a higher proportion (63%) of people aged 65+ also stating that it was a major concern.

The UK’s exit from the EU is still seen as the ‘single biggest issue’ by Brits, however. Education was found to be the third most important issue on 27%, similar to immigration (25%) and the economy (20%).

This news also comes after a King’s Fund survey found that public satisfaction for the NHS was high, despite the clear concern many people had for the service.

Dan Wellings, senior policy fellow at the King’s Fund commented that the concern was a result of funding for health services being reduced over the last 15 years.

“The Ipsos MORI/Economist May 2017 Issues Index found that 61% of people identify the NHS as one of the most important issues facing the country, 16 percentage points above Brexit,” he said. “This is the fifth highest level of concern recorded since 1997 and the highest it has been since April 2002, prior to Gordon Brown announcing £40bn of extra funding for the NHS.

“The warnings around inadequate NHS funding have been growing in number and volume over the past few years and now seem to be cutting through with the public in a significant way.”

But Wellings added that despite this concern, with Brexit dominating the headlines, problems with the NHS were unlikely to influence many voters’ decisions.

“Despite this, in a Brexit-dominated campaign and with sharply polarised views about the strengths and weaknesses of the main parties, most commentators do not think the NHS will be a decisive factor at the ballot box,” he concluded. “However, such high levels of public concern do suggest that the NHS will need to be a high priority for the incoming government.”

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