New polling highlights public priorities for health and care funding

New polling suggests that emergency services and mental health care are the public’s top priorities for any extra funding for health and care.

The representative sample of public opinion follows what has been widely seen as the toughest winter on record for the NHS and comes ahead of a government commitment to increase NHS funding.

The exclusive poll was commissioned by NHS Providers, NHS Clinical Commissioners, the Royal College of Physicians and National Voices and conducted by Ipsos Mori. It was carried out ahead of a major debate being held this week to mark the NHS’s 70th anniversary.

Priorities for additional health and care funding

When asked to choose their top three priorities for additional government funding should be, the majority of respondents (68%) believe this should be devoted to urgent and emergency care such as A&E and ambulance services. The polling follows recent winter pressures which have had a media focus on performance in A&E units.

Mental health services were the second highest scoring priority (58%) which represents a growing understanding of the importance of well resourced mental health services by the public. It comes as the government and NHS England have committed to tackling inequalities in care for those with mental health needs.

Public pessimism about the future of the NHS

Since the last survey conducted in March 2017, members of the public polled are more optimistic about the future performance of the NHS, possibly due to the prime minister’s commitment to a long-term funding settlement for health and social care:

  • The number of respondents who believe that NHS performance will get ‘much better’ or ‘better’ has increased to 21%, up from 15% the previous calendar year.
  • The number of respondents who believe that the NHS will get ‘worse’ or ‘much worse’ has fallen to 46% from 62% last year.

Public priorities when receiving non-emergency care

The new polling shows that quality of care is most important to people when receiving non-emergency care, with over a third of people (38 per cent) stating this.

  • Waiting times are still a concern among the public, with 21% of people saying short waiting times were most important.
  • Only 11% of respondents cited ‘being treated close to my home’ as a priority when receiving non-emergency care, which suggests that receiving a high quality of care is more important than the distance travelled to receive care.

Commenting on the findings, Julie Wood, Chief Executive of NHS Clinical Commissioners said:  “Mental health, social care, community and children’s services have all rightly been highlighted as priority areas for investment by the public. Alongside social care, the key will be how we balance these priorities, within the limited financial envelope, to provide a health and care system that delivers the best possible care for both our local patients and the wider population.”


About the poll:

Ipsos Mori carried out the exclusive telephone polling with a representative sample of 917 adults aged 18+ in England between 26th – 29th April 2018.

More detail is available from the NHS Providers website.