Majority say the NHS' ability to deliver care is getting worse, and expect decline to continue

New research from Ipsos MORI shows that 57% of Britons think that the ability of the NHS to deliver the care and services it provides has been getting worse over the last six months.

Majority say the NHS' ability to deliver care is getting worse, and expect decline to continue

Britons are the “worried well” internationally – they rate current health services highly BUT are the most pessimistic about the future of their local healthcare

New research from Ipsos MORI shows that 57% of Britons think that the ability of the NHS to deliver the care and services it provides has been getting worse over the last six months (just 8% think it is getting better). This is an increase in concern since January, when 52% thought it was getting worse.

 

And Britons are also pessimistic about the future of the NHS. Again, 57% expect the NHS to get worse over the next few years, against 21% who expect things to get better. This is the highest level of pessimism seen since the turn of the millennium. The over 75s are the only optimistic group (41% better, 35% worse), while Conservative supporters are also less pessimistic than Labour supporters (although still 50% still think the NHS will get worse, against 61% of Labour supporters).

 

International comparisons also show that Britons are more pessimistic than other countries when it comes to the quality of their local healthcare. In a global online survey of 16-64 year olds across 23 countries, Britons are the most likely to think that the quality of the healthcare that they and their family have access to locally will get worse over the coming years (at 47%, compared with just 8% who think it will get better). This is worse than the next pessimistic countries (also all western European), the Italians (41%), Germans, Spanish and French (all 38%), and a long way from the most optimistic nations, countries such as Brazil, India, Indonesia and China.

This pessimism in Britain is despite the fact that Britons are among the most positive internationally about the current quality of healthcare. Seven in ten (69%) people in Britain rate the quality of healthcare that they and their family currently have access to as good, well above the global average across the 23 countries of 47%. This suggests Britons are the strongest example of the “worried well” – those relatively positive about their current provision of healthcare, but very worried about what might happen in the future.

 

Kate Duxbury, Ipsos MORI’s head of health research, said:

“Britain’s love for the NHS is one of our defining national characteristics – and we remain among the most positive countries in the world about the quality of care we receive. But we are also the most worried for the future of the service – this fear has been growing, and is now at record levels, with well over half expecting services to get worse.”

Technical Note

  • Data is from two different surveys.
    • The data on the current ability of the NHS to provide its services and future expectations is taken from the Ipsos MORI Political Monitor February 2017. A total of 1044 adults aged 18+ in the GB were interviewed between 10-14 February 2017. Data are weighted to the profile of the population.
    • The international data about how people rate the quality of healthcare that they and their family have access to in their country, and whether or not they think the quality of healthcare that they and they family will have access to locally will improve, stay the same or get worse is from Ipsos MORI Global Trends Survey 2016. A total of 18,180 adults aged 16-64 across 23 countries were interviewed online between 12 September and 11 October 2016. Data is weighted.

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