Issues Index January 2018: Public concern about the NHS rises

The January 2018 Ipsos MORI Issues Index records a rise in concern about the NHS.

The author(s)

  • Michael Clemence Public Affairs
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  • Over half (55%) of the British public think the NHS is an important issue for the country, a sharp rise from 45% in December
  • Brexit has fallen to second position, but it remains a major concern for just under half of the public (46%) – and remains the single biggest issue
  • The importance of the economy has fallen to the lowest level since December 2007 (17%)
  • 2017 aggregate data is published here

The January Ipsos MORI Issues Index records a rise in concern about the NHS – since December 2017 the proportion who consider it to be a big issue facing the country has risen by ten percentage points, to 55%. Apart from a peak of 61% in May last year, this is the highest score since 2002. It has displaced Brexit as the biggest issue facing the country overall, although worries about Europe are still close to the highest recorded score, with almost half of the British public concerned (46%).

When asked about the single biggest issue facing Britain the order is reversed, with the largest proportion of the public (29%) mentioning Brexit and fewer (18%) saying it is the NHS. However, the gap has closed somewhat this month.

The proportion worried about the economy has fallen this month to 17% - the lowest score for this category for a decade. Similarly, ten per cent of the public this month are worried about unemployment, which is the lowest level of concern since July 2008. On the issue of immigration, there has been no change this month, but at 20% concern remains at half the level it was in 2016.
Top ten issues January 2018

Conservative and Labour supporters are equally concerned about the NHS (55% and 59%), but Conservative supporters are more likely to mention Brexit (57% versus 48%). 

There are bigger differences on second-order issues: Conservatives are more concerned than Labour supporters about immigration (35% to 9%), crime (20% to 12%) and defence (20% to 7%), while Labour supporters are more likely to mention education (24% to 16%) and poverty/inequality (23% to 14%).
Conservative and Labour: top ten issues

2017 aggregate data

The full Issues Index data for 2017 has been released and is available here. It finds that across 2017 the NHS and Brexit were the top two issues facing Britain, rising sharply from the levels recorded in 2016. Concern about immigration – the top issue for 2016 – fell by fourteen percentage points to 26%, making it the third biggest issue for 2017.

Technical note

Ipsos MORI's Issues Index is conducted monthly and provides an overview of the key issues concerning the country. Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 1,010 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. The answers are spontaneous responses, and participants are not prompted with any answers. 
Ipsos MORI's Capibus vehicle was used for this survey. Interviews were conducted face-to-face in-home between 12 and 22 January 2018 at 206 sampling points across Great Britain. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

The author(s)

  • Michael Clemence Public Affairs