NHS at 75: the NHS remains Britons' biggest source of national pride, but public are worried about its future

Six findings from the fourth wave of research conducted by Ipsos for The Health Foundation.

The author(s)
  • Kate Duxbury Public Affairs
  • Spencer Rutherford Public Affairs
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The Health Foundation has partnered with Ipsos to deliver a 2-year programme of research into public expectations and perceptions of health and social care. Every 6 months, we poll a representative sample of the UK public using the UK KnowledgePanel – Ipsos’ random probability online panel.

Here we cover six findings from the fourth wave of polling about how the public view the NHS at 75 and their perceptions of what the future may bring:

  1. Among those in Great Britain who identify as British citizens, the NHS ranks highest with 54% of the public saying this is what makes them most proud to be British, higher than our history (32%), our culture (26%) or our system of democracy (25%). Among members of the public who say the NHS is something that makes them proud to be British, half (55%) are proud that it is free at the point of use, affordable and paid for via tax, and over one-third (36%) are proud that it is available to all and treats everyone equally.
  2. However, only one-quarter (25%) think healthcare will generally be free at the point of delivery in 10 years’ time. In contrast, half (51%) think people will have to pay for some healthcare services that are currently free in 10 years’ time.
  3. The public tend to think the NHS is unprepared to address most future health challenges, including meeting the increasing demands of an ageing population (77%), responding to the impacts of climate change (61%), and keeping up with new technologies (51%). They are the most confident in the NHS’s preparedness to respond to future pandemics (47% think it is well prepared).
  4. The public view lack of funding (40%), staff shortages (38%) and poor government policy (35%) as the main causes for the strain NHS services are under.
  5. Nearly 3 in 4 of the public (72%) think the NHS is crucial to British society and that everything should be done to maintain it (as opposed to thinking we probably can’t maintain it in its current form – 26%). While still high, this is a significant drop from those who felt the same way in May 2022 (77%).
  6. The majority (80%) of the public continue to think the NHS needs an increase in funding, compared to 17% who think the NHS should operate within its current budget. There is the most support for an additional tax earmarked specifically for the NHS (31%), as well as an increase in National Insurance (22%) and an increase in Income Tax (21%).

Technical note

The survey was conducted between 5th and 10th May 2023 using Ipsos’s UK Knowledge Panel a random probability online panel. We surveyed 2,450 people aged 16 years and older in the UK. The sample was stratified by nation and education and delivered a response rate of 56%. A weighting spec was applied to the data in line with the target sample profile; this included one which corrected for unequal probabilities of selection of household members (to account for two members who may have been selected from one household), and weights for region, an interlocked variable of Gender by Age, Education, Ethnicity, Index of Multiple Deprivation (quintiles), and number of adults in the household.

This report covers a range of public perceptions on Britons pride in the NHS, views on what the NHS might look like in 10 years’ time and how prepared it is for future challenges; perceptions of the main causes for NHS strains; whether the NHS should be maintained in its current form; and views on NHS funding. The full dataset is available upon request; please contact Kate Duxbury or Spencer Rutherford.

The author(s)
  • Kate Duxbury Public Affairs
  • Spencer Rutherford Public Affairs

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