One in four Britons do not believe that the NHS can care for them properly, new research into the public’s attitude to the health service reveals.
When asked “how confident are you, if at all, in the NHS’s ability to give you the care you need?”, a quarter (26%) said they were not confident.
While only 15% thought the NHS was not coping well with treating coronavirus patients, many more – 41% – believed that it was not coping well with providing other services.
Experts said that increasingly long delays for operations and GP appointments, Covid’s disruption to normal NHS services and longstanding staff shortages were likely to blame for the widespread lack of confidence in the health service’s ability to provide timely and effective medical treatment.
Sally Warren, the director of policy at the King’s Fund health thinktank, said that the pandemic had added to the pressure already being felt in the NHS and forced it to prioritise who received care.
“The impact of this reprioritisation has been clear for all to see through regular reports of NHS services struggling to cope. Once again this is at the forefront of many people’s minds as the Omicron variant brings back the threat of services being overwhelmed,” said Warren.
“But it’s not just media reports that change people’s perceptions of the health service, and many people have personal experience of struggling to access their GP or being stuck on a hospital waiting list,” she added.
The findings by the pollsters Ipsos Mori are based on questions it asked 1,032 adults aged 18 to 75 across Britain between 16 and 18 December. When the 41% who thought the NHS was not coping well with providing non-Covid care were asked who they held responsible, 48% said the government, 18% blamed patients and 8% identified the general public as the culprits.
The survey also found that people who were on a waiting list for routine hospital care themselves or who have had a relative on one were more likely to be “not confident” in the NHS’s ability to provide care.