Nine out of 10 patients say NHS is underfunded, major poll reveals

More than nine out of 10 people in the UK believe the NHS is underfunded and 42% would support paying more through taxation to support it, according to researchers.

Findings from the latest British Social Attitudes survey, by NatCen Social Research, show that 32% of British people believe the NHS is facing a severe funding problem, and 93% say it has a funding problem to some extent.

The findings - collected in 2015 - show a sharp rise in the proportion of people who say the NHS has a severe funding problem, up from just 19% in 2014.

The most popular solution to the problem identified by the survey was to pay more through taxation - a move backed by 42% of respondents.

NHS funding

Of these, 24% said they were prepared to pay additional taxes to go direct to the NHS, and 17% were willing to see a larger proportion of taxes they already pay going to the health service.

Just one in four respondents would support a move to provide NHS services only for those on lower incomes. One in seven patients - 15% - said they would be prepared to pay £10 for each visit to a GP or to their local A&E department.

King's Fund chief economist John Appleby said: 'The public is virtually unanimous in its view that the NHS is facing a funding crisis. A growing number of people now say the crisis is "severe" – but there is less agreement on how to make up the shortfall, with a quarter of people taking the hard line that the health service should live within its means.

'Despite satisfaction with the NHS being high by historical standards, it has remained fairly flat over the last few years. But with five more years of planned funding restraint, it remains to be seen how attitudes towards the NHS and the public’s willingness to accept solutions to the funding problems will develop.'

Top five reasons for dissatisfaction with the NHS
  • It takes too long to get a GP or hospital appointment - 55%
  • Not enough NHS staff - 44%
  • The government doesn't spend enough money on the NHS - 39%
  • Money is wasted in the NHS - 35%
  • The quality of NHS care - 26%

Source: British Social Attitudes survey

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