Concerns about the NHS and the EU/Brexit continue to rise

The February 2017 Ipsos Issues Index reveals that over half of the British public (52%) now see the NHS as one of the biggest issues facing Britain, the highest level of concern since June 2002.

  • Concern with the NHS at the highest level since 2002
  • Highest ever recorded level of concern with the EU/Brexit
  • Worry about the economy hits a nine-year low

The February 2017 Ipsos/Economist Issues Index reveals the shifting focus of public opinion; over half of the British public (52%) now see the NHS as one of the biggest issues facing Britain, a further increase since January and the highest level of concern since June 2002. At the same time, concern with the economy has dropped to pre-crash levels, with 19% seeing it as a big issue – the lowest level since February 2008.


With the bill authorising Theresa May to initiate Brexit currently before the House of Lords, the proportion of the public who see the EU/Brexit as one of the biggest issues facing the country is also rising. This month 45% cite it as an issue – a four percentage point rise from last month and the highest level ever recorded since the survey series started in September 1974.


As in previous months, the EU/Brexit is considered the single biggest issue facing Britain by a substantial margin – almost three in ten (29%) say it is the biggest issue, compared to 18% for the NHS.

Concern with the NHS this month is ten percentage points higher amongst Conservative party supporters than it is amongst Labour party supporters (62% vs 52%), and they are also more likely to be concerned about the other issues in the top three overall – EU/Brexit (50% compared to 43%) and immigration (38% vs 23%).

These are also the key issues for Labour supporters, and this group is more likely than Conservative supporters to see housing, poverty/inequality and unemployment as a big issue facing the country.


Technical note Ipsos's Issues Index is conducted monthly and provides an overview of the key issues concerning the country. Ipsos interviewed a representative quota sample of 980 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. The questions are spontaneous - i.e. respondents are not prompted with any answers. Ipsos's Capibus vehicle was used for this survey. Interviews were conducted face-to-face in-home between 10 and 23 February 2017 at 166 sampling points across Great Britain. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

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