Survey Finds NHS Is The Most Widely Held Public Concern

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The Law Of... worrying about the NHS

Polling company Ipsos Mori have found that the British public consider the NHS as the most important issue facing the UK today.

The Law Of... worrying about the NHS

Overtaking immigration, which has held the top spot in previous months, the NHS, hospitals, and healthcare were cited as a main concern for 40% of respondents.

Exploring some of the possible reasons for the NHS topping the list of concerns, Ramune Mickeviciute – Paralegal in Simpson Millar's Medical Negligence team – explains how funding problems could prompt a number of related healthcare issues.

Most Important Issues Facing Britain

Ipsos Mori run a monthly tracker of important issues facing Britain, September saw the NHS top the list for the first time since June 2015.

Quizzing respondents on a range of topics facing the country, Ipsos Mori's monthly issues index showed that some of the top concerns include immigration, the EU, personal finances, the economy, and education.

Two out of five of the 980 adults – chosen to be representative of the entire population – polled stated that the NHS, hospitals, and healthcare were a concern to them.

The results from September showed that the NHS jumped 9 percentage points from August to make healthcare the most-mentioned issue.

Striking Junior Doctors & Underfunded Services

While the poll does not ask for specific reasons why respondents feel each topic is a concern to them, there are a number of reports published in September that could explain the sudden increase in concern over the NHS.

With the ongoing feud with Junior Doctors still looming and the constant threat of strikes discussed throughout September, it is likely that media attention on this topic swayed opinion.

Other possible explanations for the increased concern over the NHS include a lack of funding and inadequate budgets, long waiting times, and the fact that various NHS trusts are seen to be rationing care – including a number of hospitals closing A&E departments overnight.

Ipsos Mori's head of political research is quoted as saying that while general satisfaction with the NHS remains relatively high, these results show that there is a deep underlying concern about the future of the NHS.

Could This Lead To A Boost In Private Healthcare Provisions?

Explaining how an overstretched and underfunded NHS could lead to negligent care, and a possible move to private healthcare, Ramune said:

"These results show that we need to consider some of the wider issues facing the NHS, as the constant media attention on the pressures felt by the service are clearly playing on the public's mind."

"Whenever the NHS does not perform how we expect it to – patient delays, restrictions to services, and negligence causing injury – we may need to take a step back and think about causes of these performance issues."

"We might need to turn our focus on public funding and try to actively support the NHS and the work that they are doing with limited resources."

"With the NHS becoming the most widely held public concern; I do wonder whether some patients may seek expensive private treatments, especially in instances where they have already experienced poor care from the NHS."

"There have been many instances of clients that we've helped in medical negligence cases where they are not willing to go back to the NHS for further treatment after receiving substandard care."

"Of course, it is important to remember that private healthcare does not necessarily guarantee a higher standard of healthcare."

"There have been plenty of cases when the treating doctors at private clinics have been negligent and caused patients to suffer unpleasant complications and injuries; this has been happening without issues such as a shortage of staff or limited budget."

"When the survey suggests that people are concerned about the healthcare system, it definitely makes us worry about the service we might all receive at NHS. The cases that we manage do show that, unfortunately, negligence can happen; it is important to keep in mind though that the NHS is operating at its best and medical professionals in the service successfully treat thousands of patients every day without issue."

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