Healthcare: NHS versus private

Chris PolechonskiSenior Research Executive Digital, Media and Technology
June 17, 2013, 11:24 AM GMT+0

Although nearly three-quarters (73%) consider the NHS to be one of the UK’s greatest achievements, more than four in ten believe the NHS will not survive in its current form to the end of the current decade

YouGov's “Healthcare Choices: NHS versus Private” report shows that 41% of people in the UK think the health service as it exists today is unlikely to last until 2020. This is almost double the proportion (22%) who think it will survive in its current form. Over-55s are most likely to feel that major changes will occur in the NHS over the next decade (47%), while 18-24 year-olds are less likely to (31%).

The public would welcome the private sector taking a greater role in the provision of their health services. Over six in ten (61%) think that patients should be able to get treated at private hospitals for NHS prices where capacity permits. A similar proportion (62%), believe the private sector has a role to play in reducing NHS waiting lists, with just over one in eight (13%) thinking it should not.

However, the YouGov Report shows opinion is closely divided on whether opening up the NHS to competition from the private sector will increase levels of care. While 35% believe it will improve care, only slightly fewer (31%) believe that it won’t.

The report shows that there is an appetite for private healthcare in the UK. Over half (53%) of people would pay for private healthcare treatment if they could afford it, although currently only 13% of UK consumers claim to belong to a Private Medical Insurance (PMI) scheme, down from 15% in 2011. Cost is the biggest deterrent to having PMI. Well over four in ten (46%) of those with lapsed PMI membership cite expense as the major reason for that lapse, while cost puts off almost three quarters (74%) of those not in PMI schemes at present.

YouGov Reports Research Director, James McCoy, says: “Despite the apparent willingness of many to go private, whether actual or hypothetical, the NHS continues to command considerable respect amongst much of the UK population. Nevertheless, many people in the UK are resigned to the fact that some form of organisational change is either needed or will be forced through.

“It is highly possible, however, that many people who feel that major changes in the NHS are inevitable may not support this policy. Whereas there is general agreement that the private sector can actively help to reduce NHS waiting lists, there is less agreement with the idea that introducing more competition into the public system will improve levels of patient care.”

See further information on the report

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