Boris Johnson should focus on increasing NHS staff to satisfy the public

As Boris Johnson settles in as the newly elected UK Prime Minister, the NHS will be one of the big policy areas he will be focussing on.

The author(s)

  • Rachel Worsley Public Affairs
  • Rachel Burkitt Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
  • Anna Quigley Public Affairs
  • Kate Duxbury Public Affairs
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Three in five (61%) people believe that increasing the number of NHS staff should be the number one priority regarding health and care for the government. 

This is seen as a particularly important step for those aged 55 and over; around seven in ten (71%) in this age group feel that it should be the new government’s health and care priority compared with half (50%) of those aged 18 to 34. 

People also want to see the new government improve access to GP appointments (34%). Around three in ten (31%) believe that Johnson should prioritise improving waiting times for A&E, and ensuring the NHS has the most up-to-date technology (29%). A quarter (25%) believe the new government needs to focus on ensuring social care and support for everyone who needs it and improving access to mental health services. 

Opinions differ by age. Younger people tend to prioritise mental health services (29% of those aged 18-24 compared with only 17% of those 55 and over) and providing advice and services to help people live healthier lives (15% of those aged 18-24 compared with 6% of those 55 and over). 

Meanwhile, older generations are more focused on social care priorities. A third (32%) believe ensuring suitable social care and support for everyone who needs it should be a key focus for the new government; only one in six (16%) of 18-34-year olds feel the same. 

Other issues people want to be a focus of Johnson’s government include working out a long-term solution to adult social care (20%), building new hospitals or renovating old ones (19%) and improving the quality of adult social care services (15%). 

Before the election, people had more confidence in the Labour Party to deliver on these priorities. For example, though importance of increasing the number of NHS staff is seen as equally important by both Conservative and Labour supporters, there was higher confidence in the Labour Party than the Conservative Party to deliver it (34% of those who see it as a priority have confidence in the Labour Party vs. 25% for the Conservative Party). However, over a quarter (27%) have no confidence in either party.

Ben Page, CEO of Ipsos MORI, said:

With around 100,000 vacancies across the NHS and services under pressure, the public’s focus on hiring more staff for the NHS seems well founded. The challenge will be delivering, especially with record employment levels in Britain and fewer EU migrants.

Anna Quigley, Research Director at Ipsos MORI, said:

The NHS was a key issue for voters in last week’s general election, and they want to see any new government investing in its future. It’s no surprise that the public prioritise increasing the number of staff as part of that. This data illustrates yet again the value that the public place on the people who work in the NHS. Our research shows time and time again the respect and appreciation that users of the service feel towards those that care for them, and concern about the impact on the NHS of a lack of staff, now and in the future.

Technical note: 

  • A nationally representative sample of 1,134 people, aged 18 and over in Great Britain were interviewed via the Ipsos MORI online omnibus survey between 22 and 25 November 2019. Data are weighted by region, social grade, age, working status and education to match the profile of the population.

The author(s)

  • Rachel Worsley Public Affairs
  • Rachel Burkitt Ipsos Public Affairs, UK
  • Anna Quigley Public Affairs
  • Kate Duxbury Public Affairs

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