Public Health

01.02.18

Move to US-style healthcare through ACOs ‘deeply unpopular’ with public

A move to a ‘US-style’ healthcare system which would involve the private sector through schemes like accountable care organisations (ACOs) would be “deeply unpopular” with the public, an analysis by the King’s Fund has suggested.

The analysis of the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey across 34 years, revealed that support for public spending in healthcare is as high as ever, with the public consistently rejecting the idea of lowering tax and lowering spending.

Moreover, over 90% of respondents support the view that healthcare is a government responsibility.

Over the years, respondents to the surveys have been clear that they want a health system provided by the government, which is a top priority for extra spending and no access restrictions based on income.

In a blog published today, Richard Murray, director of policy at the King’s Fund, said that the analysis shows that the public remains “extremely supportive of the principles and core purpose of the NHS.”

He added: “Those that fear a shift toward a more US-style system based on private spending should take some comfort from these results as they suggest this would be deeply unpopular with the public.”

His comments come amidst a wave of objections to the formation of ACOs, with world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking backing the organisation JR4NHS, which has been granted permission to pursue a judicial review against NHS England and the health and social care secretary.

The group claims that the government has not properly legislated for ACOs, leaving gaps which could make the system vulnerable to privatisation.

Murray continued to say that the public does respond to significant changes in the performance of the NHS, with fluctuations in satisfaction seen across the 34 years.

“We may now be at a turning point as these historical gains begin to fade away and once again, this carries political risks for any government: loyalty to the principles of the NHS does not blind the public to poor performance,” he added.

“While the New Romantics of 1983 have been replaced by the hipsters of Hoxton, it seems that no matter what the changes in wider society and attitudes to other areas of public spending, the NHS remains the public’s number one priority for funding.”

Top image: Sean Dempsey, PA Images

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