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Public demands emergency services and mental health have top priority for extra cash

Mental healthcare and emergency services funding are the two most important sectors to the public when it comes to assigning extra resources, according to a new survey.

In a poll of almost 1,000 people conducted by Ipsos Mori, more than two-thirds of respondents said urgent and emergency care such as A&E and ambulance services should be a priority for additional cash.

Mental health spending was the second-highest priority for additional funding, with 58% believing the sector was in need of further backing.

This poll comes off the back of recent data suggesting demand for NHS services last winter was at a record high. Between December and March more than 5.8 million people came through the doors of the nation’s A&E services, the highest for winter on record.

The public found that community, adult social care services and children’s services were also of a high priority with 40% of respondents grading these sectors as a high priority.

The highest importance of sectors for non-emergency care for the public was quality of care (38%) and shorter waiting times, with 21% of answers viewing these non-emergency sections as the top priority for increased resources.

Deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, said: “Following the busiest winter on record for the NHS, it is clear that A&E and emergency services are perceived to be underfunded and overstretched by the public.

“These findings also show that properly funded mental health services are important to the public and the government must ensure its long-term plan for health and care reflects this.”

Julie Wood, chief executive of NHS Clinical Commissioners, identified mental health, social care, community and children’s services as “priority areas” of funding for the general public.

She added: “Alongside social care, the key will be how we balance these priorities, within the limited financial envelope, to provide a health and care system that delivers the best possible care for both our local patients and the wider population.”

Royal College of Physicians president, Professor Jane Dacre, also commented: “From the results of the poll we can see that people are very aware of the pinch-points in the NHS where it is under the most pressure.  In addition to the public support for more funding, we need the NHS and social care to work together better to provide seamless care for patients, whether in hospitals or in the community.”

Image Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire/PA Images

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