NHS staff are now split over whether the government or public are to blame for recent COVID-19 cases

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
September 16, 2021, 9:01 AM UTC

Healthcare service workers previously blamed the public

As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise following the end of restrictions this summer, a YouGov survey of NHS workers finds that those working for the National Health Service are split over who is most to blame.

Two fifths of NHS staff (41%) hold the public most responsible for the rise in COVID-19 cases, while 39% lay more blame at the government door. A further 15% think neither is more responsible.

NHS staff aged between 18 and 34 are more likely to blame the government for the cases (50%) than the public (27%). By contrast, those aged 55 and over are instead likely to blame the public (50%) rather than the public (33%).

A previous iteration of this survey in February found that NHS workers were at that point more likely to blame the public (48%), while 37% blamed the government.

Approval of Sajid Javid as health secretary is low among NHS workers

While NHS workers are split over who to blame for the rise in cases, there is no such divide in opinion over how Boris Johnson is performing. At the time the survey was conducted – 12-17 August – some 67% of NHS workers said that Boris Johnson was doing badly – including 46% who thought he was doing “very badly”. A quarter (27%) of those in the service thought he was doing well. The proportion of NHS workers thinking he was doing a bad job rose 5pts between March and August, while the number of those thinking he was doing well dropped 7pts.

While only in his post as health secretary for a month and a half at the time of our survey, NHS workers were already less than impressed with Sajid Javid. Half (50%) felt he was doing badly. However, a quarter (24%) said he was doing well, and a further quarter (26%) were undecided on his performance at that point.

This is compared to 68% of NHS staff who thought his predecessor Matt Hancock was doing badly in March.

See full results here