An AXA PPP healthcare survey carried out by OnePoll in July 2009 on 2000 people, says that a third of people believe that real cuts in NHS spending are on the way, irrespective of which political party comes to power in the next election. And worryingly, only 23% reckon the NHS is currently on top of hospital cleanliness, with 62% saying they are worried about catching an infection should they have to be admitted and 8% claiming they have picked up a bug during a hospital stay.
The poll highlights public concern about the government’s stewardship of the NHS, including questions about the cost effectiveness of its record spending and the impact of the target culture that has been a prevalent feature of the regime.
Only 20% of respondents agree that the unprecedented levels of funding given to the NHS by the government has been money well spent, while 62% of respondents feel that government pressure has made NHS staff more concerned with hitting targets than with the quality of patient care. Despite a belief that the NHS is obsessed with targets, only 50% of respondents think that the NHS is doing OK or well at hitting its target of ensuring cancer patients see a cancer specialist within two weeks of seeing their GP, while 53% feel likewise about the target for patients who need an operation to get it within 18 weeks of seeing their GP.
Dudley Lusted from AXA PPP healthcare comments: “Despite unprecedented levels of NHS spending, there is a lot of anxiety about the service’s performance and governance and issues such as hospital cleanliness and safety (only 35% reckon NHS hospitals are safe places to be) and the target culture are a real worry for patients.”
Looking ahead to the state of healthcare after the next general election, 33% believe the NHS will experience real spending cuts. Very few expect the number of doctors or nurses working in NHS hospitals will increase and few believe it will be easier to make a GP appointment or register with an NHS dentist.
People may also have to do more for themselves: 30% believe that more people will be topping up their NHS treatment with privately funded care and 22% reckon there will be an increase in the number of people going abroad for privately funded care.
People favour cutting back spending on treatment of conditions with an element of personal choice or culpability, including cosmetic plastic surgery, obesity related conditions, smoking related conditions, stop-smoking aids, alternative remedies such as acupuncture and homeopathy and rehab for alcoholics or drug addicts.