New deliberative research shows that participants prioritise improvements in primary and community care over secondary care

The research, conducted by Ipsos for the Health Foundation, also shows that participants want improved health services, and are willing to pay more taxes to achieve this – with conditions attached.

The author(s)
  • Kate Duxbury Public Affairs
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The research was designed to understand what the public thinks about the future of the NHS in England and the critical decisions that will face the next government. It comprised three workshops, each taking place over the course of a weekend in a different location and with a different cohort of the public (28-29th October 2023 in King’s Lynn, 11-12th November 2023 in Leeds, and 25-26th November 2023 in London). In total, 72 participants were included in the research, broadly reflecting the wider population living in England.

The key findings from the research are:

  • Participants tended towards a focus on primary and community care over hospital care, largely to try and reduce demand for hospitals (for example through earlier diagnosis, better management of conditions, better access to primary care services). However, some thought the focus should continue to be on hospitals, as patients requiring hospital care have more acute needs. Participants found the trade-off challenging and would not accept reductions in hospital care.
  • Participants generally wanted the NHS to deliver better services and said they would be willing to pay additional tax to achieve this, even when shown what this could mean for them personally. This view was not universal and the cost of living crisis meant that most at least hesitated about additional taxes. There were expectations attached to additional funding raised via taxation, including: a need for the NHS to be more efficient and spend its budget well; a need to see improvements in services; and greater transparency and long-term planning to make the best use of the budget.
  • There was a strong affiliation with the NHS model and its founding principles, and participants overall favoured this model over the alternatives of a social health insurance system or the current model with additional user charges. Participants were positive that the NHS is available to all equally, free at the point of use, and not profit-making – though some questioned the extent to which this still applied.
  • Confidence in planning for the future of the NHS was low from the outset, with participants criticising short-term approaches. Independence from government and long-term planning would most build their confidence in planning for the future.

Access the findings here.

The author(s)
  • Kate Duxbury Public Affairs

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