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Doubts in Yorkshire about the NHS


12:00am 11th July 2012
(Updated 6:35am 11th July 2012)

According to new research launched today, Yorkshire people are the least optimistic about the ability of the NHS to provide them with good quality healthcare in the future.

Only 31% of the Yorkshire public believe that the NHS will provide the right support and healthcare as they grow old – scoring this region one of the lowest across the UK.

The study commissioned by the non-profit, mutual healthcare organization Benenden Healthcare Society on public attitudes to the NHS shows that whilst 91% of Yorkshire people believe that the NHS was originally created to help people like them and 75% still remain confident that today’s NHS will be there to provide quality healthcare services, confidence levels significantly drop when looking at the future of the NHS.

Results show that only 34% of those questioned in the region believe that the NHS will be there for them in 10 years’ time - with a further drop to less than one in three (30%) when looking ahead to 20 years’ time.  This compares to national figures of 41% believing the NHS will be there for them in 10 years’ time and 33% in 20 years’ time.

58% of people in the Yorkshire region also believe that present Government policies will weaken the NHS over the next couple of years, polling this region the highest across the UK against a national average of 50%. Only 8% of people in the region believe the recent government reforms will strengthen the positioning of the NHS in the future. 

Ken Hesketh, Chief Executive of York based Benenden Healthcare Society, said:

“Whilst still feeling confident in the service provision the NHS offers today, the research findings show that the public have genuine concerns over the future of the NHS and its ability to provide for them in the years ahead.

“The public are clearly concerned about what lays further down the road when it comes to healthcare reassurance. What these findings also show is that there is a real need for further consideration of the future of healthcare provision and how improving rather than deteriorating standards can be financed.”

Nationwide, the results show that a majority of the British public would still want to see their GP for free, nearly one in five (17%) are willing to spend small amounts (£5 a month) extra for seeing their hospital consultant more quickly with a further 13% willing to pay more than £5 a month. Similarly 27% would pay extra to receive inpatient care and 22% to access free physiotherapy.

Ken Hesketh continues:

“Realistically, the country’s public finances are unable to sustain a level of spend that the public have come to expect in the past decade and the role of ‘top-up’ payments and co-payment plans will be crucial for the continuation of good quality healthcare. This means that there is a real place for mutual organisations such as Benenden Healthcare Society to complement the healthcare provision of the NHS in the future.

“Benenden Healthcare already firmly sees itself as complementary and a partner to the NHS, but our recent move to open membership eligibility to the general public and allow any UK resident aged 16 or over to join the Society means that now anyone can join and benefit from our mutual ethos and enjoy greater choice in tailoring the way they access health in the UK.”

The research results show that whilst 89% of British people believe that the NHS would be there to provide good quality healthcare in the case of an acute emergency (e.g. a road accident or a heart attack), public confidence falls for longer-term chronic conditions, including those associated with an ageing society. Only 48% of those polled believed that the NHS would provide good quality healthcare services in the case of a chronic condition such as a stress or back pain.  

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