The Ipsos Global Health Service Monitor is an annual study that explores the biggest health challenges facing people today and how well-equipped people think their country’s healthcare services are to tackle them. We ran the survey in 30 countries between 30th August and 3rd September 2021.
Key findings include:
- Coronavirus remains the biggest health problem facing people around the world (selected by 70% of people across all 30 countries, only slightly down on the 72% recorded last year).
- Half as many (34%) say that cancer is an important health concern in 2021, down from 37% last year. Meanwhile, mental health sees a 5-point increase to 31%, putting it just 3 points behind global concern about cancer.
- Despite a challenging couple of years for healthcare services, public perceptions are holding up well overall: 53% rate their country’s healthcare services positively, and 51% trust they will receive the best treatment.
- That said, a majority worldwide (56%) say that their country’s healthcare system is overstretched while access to treatment/waiting times is seen to be the main challenge for healthcare services (41%), followed by lack of staff (39%).
Assessments of healthcare
Worldwide, 53% on average give a positive assessment of their country’s healthcare services. This has increased somewhat since 2020 (50%) and is now well above 2018 levels (45%).
Newly added to the survey, Singapore is the most content about their quality of healthcare (79% say it is good or very good). Just behind are Switzerland (also new to the survey) and Australia (last year’s leader on this measure), both with 78%.
As chart below shows, ratings vary very considerably from nation to nation.
Perceived quality of healthcare has decreased most since 2020 in Canada (-8), Great Britain (-6), Germany (-6), and Hungary (-5). Meanwhile, it has increased in Argentina (+9), Spain (+8), Russia (+7) and Belgium (+6).
Looking ahead, one-third (34%) of our respondents globally think that their country’s healthcare services will improve in the coming years, while 16% expect them to worsen. More developed countries are particularly likely to be in the more pessimistic camp.
This year’s Monitor finds 70% saying that COVID-19 is an important health problem today – only very slightly down from this time last year (72%). It is considered the number one health problem in 25 of the total 30 countries surveyed, with highest scores seen in Malaysia (93%), Peru (90%), Japan (85%), Mexico (also 85%), and Brazil (84%).
Compared to last year, the proportion citing Covid-19 as a top health concern has increased most in South Africa (+20), Japan (+11), Australia (+10), and Mexico (+7). It has decreased most in Chile (-17), Poland (-17), Hungary (-14), China (-12), Belgium (-11) and the Netherlands (also -11).
Mental health is the health concern that sees the greatest increase in prominence among the global public in 2021.
Compared to last year, this has increased most in Spain (+19), Belgium (+13), Brazil (+13), Malaysia (+11), Chile (+9 ) and Italy (+9) and has decreased only in 4 countries (Turkey, Japan, Great Britain, and India).
Read more about global views on mental health in our 2021 World Mental Health Day report.
Access to treatment or waiting times (41%) and a lack of staff (39%) continue to be the two issues that the public think healthcare systems need to improve on most, with around four in 10 selecting these. Next are cost (31%), bureaucracy (26%), a lack of investment in preventative health (23%), and ageing populations (21%).
Other questions in our survey give more detail on some of these challenges. On average, 60% globally say that waiting times to get an appointment with doctors are too long in their country. When it comes to getting a medical appointment in a person’s local area, there appear to be more varied experiences, with 48% on average finding it easy but 28% disagreeing with this.
The countries most concerned about access to treatment/waiting times are:
- Poland (68%)
- Hungary (61%)
- Chile (61%)
- Mexico (55%)
- Italy (55%)
The countries most concerned about not enough staff are:
- Sweden (71%)
- Netherlands (66%)
- France (63%)
- Canada (61%)
- = Germany (58%)
= Hungary (58%)
The countries most concerned about cost of treatment are:
- Chile (58%)
- US (52%)
- Singapore (49%)
- Russia (45%)
- India (44%)
Outside of the top three issues overall, we see ageing population is the number one challenge for those in China, South Korea and Singapore. The public in Argentina and Brazil are most concerned about lack of investment. Finally, we see poor quality treatment is the top issue in Russia and South Africa.
Great Britain Findings
Our 30-country survey on the public’s health concerns and views of healthcare systems finds that, after a uniquely challenging year (or more) for healthcare during the pandemic, Britons are generally happy with the quality of healthcare available in their country and trust that it will provide them with the best possible care – even if levels of agreement have slipped compared to last year.
However, Britons are acutely aware of the challenges facing healthcare services. They are the most likely of all countries’ citizens surveyed to say that their healthcare system is overstretched (83% agree) and they identify ‘lack of staff’ as the biggest problem. They are also the least optimistic about the future of healthcare services, with many more expecting to see them worsen (32%) than improve (13%).
Top health concerns in Great Britain
Looking at the nation’s top health concerns, although still number one, Coronavirus doesn’t have so large a lead over other health issues in terms of perceived importance as in some other countries. Cancer, mental health, obesity and dementia all record above-average levels of concern.
% who select each of the following as one of the main health problems facing their country today
- Coronavirus 66% (-10 points vs. 2020)
Global country average 70%
- Cancer 41% (-5 points vs. 2020)
Global country average 34%
- Mental Health 40% (-3 points vs. 2020)
Global country average 31%
- Obesity 28% (+1 vs. 2020)
Global country average 19%
- Dementia 14% (+1 vs. 2020)
Global country average 4%
Perceptions of the health system in GB
While two-thirds (68%) in Great Britain give a positive assessment of the quality of healthcare available in their country, putting it in 7th place of 30 surveyed, this has dropped by 6 points since 2020 – the second largest decrease recorded across all countries this year.
People in Britain also remain pessimistic about the quality of healthcare the future: one-third (32%) say they expect it to get worse over the coming years. This is the second highest proportion recorded, after Hungary (34%). Only 13% of Britons think it will improve.
However, there is still a strong level of trust among Britons that they will receive the best treatment from their healthcare systems – 65% agree (-3 points vs. 2020). This chimes with the findings from Ipsos’ recent survey on trustworthy professions – GB gives doctors the highest trustworthiness score of all countries.
Although this is a relatively lesser concern in Britain compared to other countries, there has been a marked increase this year (+9 points) in the proportion of the public who say that many people in their country cannot afford good healthcare (37% agree, 5th lowest overall, despite this change).
There has also been a significant drop (-7 percentage points) in agreement that the healthcare system provides equal care to everyone (56% - still the 5th highest recorded overall).
Great Britain is the country where most believe that the healthcare system is overstretched – 83% agree with this, compared to the global country average of 56%.
When asked about the greatest challenges facing the healthcare system in their country today, Britons are most likely to select ‘not enough staff’ (56% vs. 39% global country average), followed by ‘access to treatment/waiting times’ (52% vs. 41% global country average). The third greatest challenge for healthcare chosen by Britons is ‘lack of investment’, an issue that ranks 7th globally.
- Read more about a range of public perceptions relating to healthcare services in the full report.