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As this year’s party conference season gathers pace, new polling from Ipsos and the Health Foundation shows the public wants additional investment in the NHS. With neither of the two main parties having yet committed to the future funding increases the NHS will need, the findings underline that the parties risk being out of step with public opinion.  

Four out of 5 people (80%) support additional funding for the NHS according to the survey. This includes a clear majority across the political spectrum, including among people planning to vote Labour (93%), Liberal Democrat (90%), Conservative (60%) and ‘Other’ voters (66%). Overall support has remained unchanged from November 2022, despite continuing concerns about the cost of living. 

When asked what they thought were the top priorities for the NHS, 40% of people said addressing the pressure or workload on staff, 39% said increasing the number of staff in the NHS and 34% said improving waiting times for routine services such as diagnostic tests or operations. 

The public’s views about the future of the NHS, social care and public health are pessimistic, although slightly less so than 6 months ago. Around half of people expect the general standard of NHS (54%) and social care (52%) services to get worse over the next year, while 50% think the public’s overall health and wellbeing will get worse.  

On social care, the public’s top priorities are improving pay and conditions for social care staff (42%), making it easier for health and social care services to work together (37%) and increasing the number of staff in social care (32%). The Health Foundation is concerned that while both parties acknowledge the importance of social care, neither has a detailed plan as yet for addressing the decades-long neglect of the care sector.  

On public health, people across the political spectrum agree that the government has a great deal or fair amount of responsibility for reducing harms from alcohol (67%), gambling (70%) and smoking (80%). While nearly 6 in 10 (58%) think the government has been effective at reducing smoking related harm, just 25% think the government has been effective at reducing harm from alcohol and 21% on gambling, indicating that there is appetite for more action in these areas.

Tim Gardner, Assistant Director of Policy at the Health Foundation, said:

‘This survey shows a clear majority of people across party lines want more funding for the NHS, better support for staff and access to the health service, and for the government to take more action to address the issues that lead to preventable poor health. In short, voters want to see government doing more on health and social care.

‘Yet neither of the two main parties have yet committed to the future funding increases the NHS will need. Neither has a detailed plan for ending decades of neglect of the social care sector. And neither party has a comprehensive policy agenda for preventing people falling into poor health. 

‘With the clock ticking to the next election, both the main parties risk being out of step with public opinion on health and social care.’ 

Notes to editors

On Monday, 25 September 2023, we published detailed analysis about projected costs to meet the growing demand for social care. That report can be found here

About the Health Foundation 

The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK. 

At party conferences 

The Health Foundation will be hosting various events at party conferences, including keynote speeches from Neil O’Brien MP, Wes Streeting MP and Daisy Cooper MP. To find out more, read here or contact ash.singleton@health.org.uk 

About the polling 

Technical details: Our latest wave surveyed a representative sample of 2,450 UK adults aged 16 and over between 5–10 May 2023 online via the Ipsos UK KnowledgePanel. The sample was stratified by nation and education and delivered a response rate of 56%. A weighting spec was applied to the data in line with the target sample profile; this included one which corrected for unequal probabilities of selection of household members (to account for two members who may have been selected from one household), and weights for region, an interlocked variable of Gender by Age, Education, Ethnicity, Index of Multiple Deprivation (quintiles), and number of adults in the household.

Media contact

Creina Lilburne
020 7664 4647 

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