Paper summary: Health

Public attitudes towards the NHS in austere times

The past five years have seen large-scale reform to the health service, at a time of economic difficulty. Now, as we approach the next general election, how have satisfaction levels been affected? Do people perceive there to be a funding crisis – and if so how should this be addressed?

Satisfaction with healthcare

Satisfaction with the NHS has increased, with 65% saying they are satisfied, up from 60% in 2013.

  • This increase in satisfaction was greatest – no less than 11 percentage points - among Labour supporters.
  • Satisfaction with A&E services has also increased, from 53% to 58%.
  • On the other hand, satisfaction with GP services has declined from 77% in 2010 to 71% in 2014, though this is still the most popular of the NHS services.

A funding crisis?

The public believe, almost universally (92%), that the NHS is facing a funding problem. But how should this problem be addressed?

  • A majority (58%) say they would not be happy for the government to curb spending in other areas to maintain the current NHS service.
  • Support for increasing taxes to spend more on health, education and social benefits still
    remains relatively low (37%).
  • Only around a quarter back charging for services such as a GP appointment or hospital meals.

Alternatives to universal NHS care?

Most people are opposed to the idea of a system only for those on lower incomes, while only a
minority would prefer to be treated by a private service.

  • Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) oppose the idea that the NHS should be available only to those on lower incomes.
  • However, 45% think that the NHS will not still be a free universal service in ten years’ time.
  • More (39%) say they would prefer to be treated by a NHS service than a private one (16%) though 43% have no preference.

Download the full paper