Nurse and patient

More staff and better funding: A new report reveals the public back the NHS

An independent report has revealed that the public want the NHS to be more adequately staffed and funded, as well as believing it is an integral part of British society, as concerns over the state of the NHS continue to grow.

The study, conducted by The Health Foundation, polled just over 2,000 adults in the UK, between the 26th of May and the 1st of June 2022.

It showed the strong public support the NHS still has with 77% believing not only that is crucial to the British way of living but also that we must do everything in our power to maintain it.

The public are also in favour of more spending with 71% thinking that the Government need to go above and beyond any money raised through the health and care levy and invest even more into the NHS.

Accounting for the UK as a whole, only 13% of the people polled believed that the Government has its NHS policies in the right place, with 55% also thinking that the standard of care provided under the NHS has worsened in the last 12 months.

The public don’t expect the situation to get any better either: 39% think the standards will get even worse, whilst only 22% believed the standard of care will get better – only 43% of people believed the NHS is providing a good service nationally with 42% believing it is providing a good service locally.

Director of policy at the NHS Confederation, Dr Layla McCay, said: “These results show how strong public support for the NHS continues to be with 77% of people believing it is crucial to British society to maintain health services with 71% also saying the government should set aside greater investment in the health service. 

“Mirroring the concerns of health leaders, this polling shows that the public also see investment in a long term fully funded workforce strategy as a top priority for the government with vacancy rates that now top 130,000.

“It is clear that the public also expect a clear plan that addresses the situation in health and social care before it becomes a full-scale emergency.

“NHS leaders want the government to set out an immediate support package for the health service as it approaches a perilous winter and act quickly and decisively to support the NHS and social care throughout the turbulent weeks and months ahead."

Other key findings from the report include:

  • The public’s top priorities are improving waiting times for routine services (38%), arresting workforce workload (36%), and boosting staff numbers in general (36%).
  • The vast majority back more investment to fix staffing issues, even if it comes out of the public purse. Suggested measures include diversifying the ways in which people can join the NHS (90%), increasing pay (77%), improving working conditions (83%), expanding spaces at medical and nursing schools (87%), and giving medical students more support for their student training (82%).
  • Only 46% of people believed the Government is doing a good job of reducing the harm from smoking, whilst just 19% believed the Government are working effectively to improve physical activity, improve diets (17%), reduce obesity (14%), and reduce alcohol-related harm (16%).

Hugh Alderwick, Director of Policy at the Health Foundation, said:  “The new prime minister inherits a health system under unbearable strain – and very few people think their government has the right policies in place for the NHS or social care.

“Pressures on the NHS in England are sometimes used to fuel a narrative that the health system needs fundamental ‘reform’. But the public have strong support for the basic principles of the NHS and think we must do everything we can to maintain it. They want a health service with enough staff to deliver the care they need, not a fundamentally different kind of health system. And they back additional investment to make that happen.

“The public point to clear priorities for the NHS, including expanding and supporting the workforce. The public are right, and the new government should listen to them. Staffing shortages are affecting what the health system can deliver and are an existential threat to the NHS’s future, yet somehow government has not grasped the scale of the problem. A long-term workforce plan backed by sufficient investment is needed. If government does not act quickly, it risks losing touch with the reality facing the NHS and the public it serves.”

More details about the survey’s findings is available here.

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