Seven in ten Britons are confident in the NHS’ ability to deal with the pandemic

A new online survey by Ipsos MORI looks at trends in perceptions around Coronavirus among a nationally representative sample of Britons aged 18-75.

The author(s)

  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
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Confidence in the NHS

  • Confidence in the NHS continues to fall, now almost three-quarters of Britons aged 18-75 (72%) are confident in the abilities of the NHS to deal with those who are ill as a result of Coronavirus, down from 76% in September and 81% in June

  • Older Britons are more confident than their youngers, almost 8 in 10 (78%) of those aged 55-75 have faith in the NHS, falling to 66% of 18-34s.

  • Those who voted for the Conservative Party in the last General Election are more confident than those who voted Labour (81% vs. 67%).
  • However, one in four (24%) now say they are not confident in the ability of the NHS to handle Coronavirus – the highest level since March.
  • Meanwhile, the % that are ‘very confident’ has fallen to 21% from a peak of 37% in May.

Confidence in NHS

Clarity of Government communications

  • More than half of Britons say they have found Government communications about what you should do in response to Coronavirus unclear (54%), while over 4 in 10 (44%) say communication is clear. Numbers are identical to scores given in September. Back in June, 58% thought government communications were clear.
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, those who voted for a Conservative government in 2019 are more likely to support their messaging, 64% of Tory voters say the instructions have been clear, only 30% of Labour voters say the same

Have measures been strict enough?

  • Opinion is split on how strict recent new measures are, 39% of Britons say recent new measures are ‘not strict enough’, a further 39% believe they are ‘about right’.
  • Only 14% believe recent new measures are ‘too strict’. 8% say they don’t know.

  • Younger Britons are most likely to say recent new measures are ‘too strict’. 19% of 18-34s say this compared to 15% of 35-54s and just 9% of those aged 55-75.
  • 2019 Labour voters are most likely to say recent new measures are ‘not strict enough’ (45%) rather than ‘too strict’ (12%) or ‘about right’ (37%). On the other hand, 2019 Conservative voters are most likely to say recent new measures are ‘about right’ (45%), rather than ‘not strict enough’ (34%) or ‘too strict’ (16%).

Priorities: Economy vs. health

  • More than 4 in 10 (44%) Britons aged 18-75 say the Government should prioritise people’s health over that of the economy ‘by having more restrictions on public events, workplaces and travel’. This is down one point from September.
  • Meanwhile, just 17% think the government should ‘prioritise the economic health of the country of by having fewer restrictions on public events, workplaces and travel’. This is up 6 points from September.
  • 32% believe they should be prioritised equally – down one point from September.
  • The remaining 7% say neither should be prioritised or they don’t know. Down from 10% in September.
  • Those aged 18-34 are most likely to want to prioritise the economic health of the economy (24%), compared to 15% of 35-54s and 12% of 55-75s.
  • 2019 Labour supporters are most likely to want to prioritise health (55%) whereas 2019 Conservatives are split between those saying ‘health’ (35%) or ‘both equally’ (39%).

Comfort of returning to “normality”

  • When asked how comfortable they will be doing various things once the latest restrictions are eased,  7 in 10 say they would either be comfortable doing the following or that they are already doing these things as they were before the virus outbreak: shopping in supermarkets (72%), going to your GP for issues not related to Coronavirus (71%) and meeting with friends and family outside your household (71%). 
  • Meanwhile, 53% say they will not be comfortable taking holidays abroad. 47% say they will not be comfortable using public transport and 46% say they will not be comfortable going to bars and restaurants. 

Comfort of returning to "normality"Commenting on the findings, Ipsos MORI Research Director Keiran Pedley said:

Britons continue to have overwhelming faith in the ability of the NHS to handle the Coronavirus outbreak, even if confidence is softening a little as we head deeper into winter. Whilst Britons are somewhat divided over the clarity of communication coming from government, those that think measures being taken to combat the virus are ‘too strict’ remain very much in the minority. The nation’s health remains the priority, with 3 in 4 Britons saying that either health should be prioritised over the economy or that both should be prioritised equally.

Technical note:

  • Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,072 British adults aged 18-75. Interviews were conducted online from 6th to 9th November, 2020. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.
     

The author(s)

  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs

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