Key points

  • Protecting the NHS from cuts is important to the majority of the general public – 88% selected ‘the NHS/health care’ as a main area of public spending that should be protected. Fewer people think that schools (56%) and care for older people (40%) should be protected.
  • Nearly two-thirds of people think that taxes should be increased to fund the NHS – 64% would prefer to see increased taxes rather than reduced levels of care (9%) or reduced spending on other services (17%).
  • Nine in 10 people (88%) agree that the NHS should be tax-funded, free at the point of use, and provide comprehensive care for all citizens. This is up marginally from 85% in 2015. The proportion of people giving the maximum possible agreement (a score of 10 out of 10) has increased from 49% to 61%.
  • Only 12% of people think the general standard of NHS care has improved over the past year, although slightly more (14%) think it will get better over the next year. Forty-four percent of people think the general standard of NHS care has worsened over the past year. Almost half (48%) think it will get worse over the next year.
  • For social care, just 8% of people think it has improved over the past year, while 50% think it will get worse over the next year.
  • While almost a third of people (30%) don’t have a preference for where they receive NHS-funded care (ie from an NHS or non-NHS provider), there has been an increase in the number of people preferring to go to an NHS-provided service – 55%, up from 39% in the 2014 British Social Attitudes survey.
  • Half of respondents (50%) think the NHS often wastes money – this reflects no change from 2014.
  • Almost nine in 10 people (87%) think that existing NHS and social care workers who are from the EU should be allowed to stay when the UK leaves the EU.
  • Most people think that NHS workers should receive basic annual pay increases above the 1% currently planned, with 78% saying the limit should be higher. Just 17% think pay increases should stay at 1%.
  • People’s biggest concern when going into their local A&E is waiting times (70%). All other concerns polled below 20%.

The Health Foundation commissioned Ipsos MORI to do a survey of the general public in Great Britain on their views about funding of the NHS, as well as the provision of NHS and social care services.

The survey was carried out in May 2017. We have analysed some of the findings from the survey. We have also provided comparisons with the results of an Ipsos MORI survey that we commissioned in 2015 and with NatCen’s British Social Attitudes survey of 2014.

Further reading


NHS at 70: Public perceptions

June 2018

Poll conducted for the Health Foundation in partnership with The King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and the...

You might also like...


Webinar: Learning from international health care system responses to COVID-19


What can we learn from the approaches other countries have taken to the pandemic to help inform...


Press release

If government is serious about ‘levelling up’, it must overhaul funding for general practice

Press release

New report calls for government action on GP funding and workforce shortages to tackle unfair...

Press release

Measures to boost employment could force people into low quality work and lead to poorer health

Press release

Health Foundation response to the Department of Work and Pensions' announcement of new measures to...

Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101 copy

Get social

@francespushkin Thanks for sharing this!

Follow us on Twitter
Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101

Work with us

We look for talented and passionate individuals as everyone at the Health Foundation has an important role to play.

View current vacancies
Artboard 101 copy 2

The Q community

Q is an initiative connecting people with improvement expertise across the UK.

Find out more