Most Brits fear the NHS will have to start charging them for care within the next 10 years, a poll suggests.
This is despite the health service making over half of Brits proud to be British, ranking higher than the UK’s history, democracy, or the Royal family.
The survey of nearly 2,500 Brits revealed that just 25 per cent believe the NHS will be largely free at the point of use by 2033.
Just over half (51 per cent) suspect they will have to pay for some services they currently get for free, whilst 13 per cent predicted most services will come with a fee and 7 per cent anticipate having to pay for all NHS services.
The poll, commissioned by think tank the Health Foundation, comes amid record waiting lists for NHS care, overstretched ambulance and A&E services and crucial cancer care deadlines for patients being missed.
Over three quarters of Brits predict the NHS will start charging them for currently free services within the next decade with a similar proportion anticipating the health service isn’t prepared to meet rising demand according to a Health Foundation commissioned poll
Despite the gloomy outlook, the vast majority of Brits said the health service made them proud to be British
When asked why, the NHS’s principal of providing free/affordable care ranked as the highest source of pride
Among those surveyed, those who vote Conservative were most likely to predict the NHS will start charging people to use services, at 66 per cent
In comparison, 51 per cent of Labour supporters predicted the same.
Conservative and Labour supporters also disagreed on what was to blame for the NHS being in crisis.
Tory voters were more likely to pin the blame on NHS mismanagement and inefficacy, 43 and 32 per cent pointing to these factors respectively.
Labour supporters instead said No10 and ministers’ penny-pinching was to blame, with 58 and 52 per cent pointing to a lack of NHS funding and Government policy respectively.
Regardless of how they voted, eight out of 10 people said the NHS needed an increase in funding.
Increased taxation was the most popular method of raising this extra cash, beating more borrowing or cutting other Government, with the most popular tax being a specific NHS tax (31 per cent).
The vast majority of those surveyed also didn’t think the NHS was ready for the future.
A total of 77 per cent said the health service was not ready to meet the demands of an ageing population and 51 per cent said it was unprepared to incorporate new technology like AI.
Despite uncertainty over its future, the poll also revealed how many Brits were proud of the UK’s health service.
A total of 54 per cent of people said the NHS made them proud to be British, easily beating the nation’s history (34 per cent) and the Royals (23 per cent).
Among those for which the NHS was a source of pride, 55 per cent said they were most proud of the health service providing free and affordable health care.
Other leading sources of pride were the NHS treating every person equally (36 per cent) and the quality of care and skill of its medics (14 per cent).
Health Foundation assistant director for policy Tim Gardner said the poll revealed both how important the NHS was to Brits, and how they feared for its future.
‘After 75 years, the NHS remains fundamental to what it means to be British – but there is real concern among the public about whether the principles on which the health service was founded will endure,’ he said.
The number of people waiting for routine hospital treatment in England soared to a record 7.42million (red line) in April, figures show. More than 370,000 people in the queue for routine ops, such as hip replacements, were waiting for more than a year (yellow bars)
NHS data on A&E performance in May shows that three-quarters of emergency department attendees (74 per cent) were seen within four hours (red line). Meanwhile, 31,494 patients who sought help in emergency departments were forced to wait more than 12 hours — equivalent to more than 1,000 patients per day (yellow bars)
Ambulances took an average of 32 minutes and 24 seconds to respond to category two calls, such as burns, epilepsy and strokes. This is nearly twice as long as the 18 minute target and nearly four minutes longer than one month earlier (red bars)
Six in 10 cancer patients started treatment within two months of an urgent GP referral (red line). This is down from March and well below the NHS target of 85 per cent. It means 5,178 patients (blue bars) had to wait longer for surgery, chemo or radiotherapy
‘People’s concern about the current state of the health service should not be interpreted as an appetite for radical change to its founding principles.
‘Our polling consistently shows that the public wants a better health service, that can respond to changing health needs and continue to provide equitable access for all, and backs the investment and policy action needed to bring that about.’
Mr Gardner added that Government’s recently released NHS workforce strategy should be a starting point for sustained ‘investment and improvement – not a one-off event.’
The NHS’s 75th birthday comes at a time when many parts of the health service are struggling to keep up with demand.
Official data shows the number of people waiting for routine hospital treatment in England soared to a record 7.42million in April, figures show.
Of these, more than 370,000 people in the queue for routine ops, such as hip replacements, have been waiting for more than a year.
NHS data on A&E performance in May shows that only three-quarters of emergency department attendees (74 per cent) were seen within four hours, compared to above 90 per cent a decade ago.
And ambulances took an average of 32 minutes and 24 seconds to respond to category two calls, such as burns, epilepsy and strokes, nearly twice as long as the 18 minute target for such emergencies.
Additionally, only six in 10 cancer patients started treatment within two months of an urgent GP referral below the NHS target of 85 per cent.
It’s not the first time the prospect of paying for NHS care has been highlighted.
Other such ideas, such as controversially charging wealthier Brits to use the health service or removing some exemptions like free prescription for pensioners have been touted before.