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Vast majority of UK public support NHS pay increase

Vast majority of UK public support NHS pay increase
By Jess Hacker
8 September 2022

An overwhelming majority of the British population (77%) support a pay increase for NHS workers, a major public survey has found.

And a further 83% agree that improving current working conditions for NHS staff is vital to fix the workforce crisis.

Carried out by Ipsos for the Health Foundation, the summer survey of more than 2,050 UK adults sought to capture the public mood toward the NHS, its support and its services.

The major poll found that 77% of people believe the health service is ‘crucial to British society’, noting that the country ‘must do everything to maintain it’, despite more than half (55%) agreeing that the general standard of care has deteriorated in the last year.

It comes as the new Prime Minister Liz Truss takes office, with many leaders in the NHS calling for her to address pay rises and pensions as a matter of priority.

Across the UK, just one-in-10 (13%) think their national Government has the right policies in place for the NHS, the poll also revealed, suggesting a change of direction may be needed to reverse the public’s perceived decline in care.

Hugh Alderwick, Director of Policy at the Health Foundation, said: ‘Pressures on the NHS in England are sometimes used to fuel a narrative that the health system needs fundamental ‘reform’. But the public have strong support for the basic principles of the NHS and think we must do everything we can to maintain it.

‘They want a health service with enough staff to deliver the care they need, not a fundamentally different kind of health system. And they back additional investment to make that happen.’

Other key findings include:

  • The public’s top priorities for the NHS are improving waiting times for routine services (38%), addressing the pressure on or workload of NHS staff (36%) and increasing the number of staff in the NHS (36%)
  • Three-quarters (73%) are concerned about the pressure GP practices are under, with most attributing this to lack of staff (43%) and lack of funding (42%)
  • The majority (56%) think standards in social care have deteriorated over the past 12 months, with 43% believing this will get worse.

It also found that nearly three-quarters (71%) believe the Government should invest more money into the NHS on top of the new tax, despite the new Prime Minister vowing to slash the levy. However, Liz Truss has promised to reverse the tax hike – which came into effect in April.

Dr Layla McCay, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said: ‘Mirroring the concerns of health leaders, this polling shows that the public also see investment in a long term fully funded workforce strategy as a top priority for the government with vacancy rates that now top 130,000.

‘It is clear that the public also expect a clear plan that addresses the situation in health and social care before it becomes a full-scale emergency.’

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