Labour leads on healthcare amid public concern about NHS reform - but is the public as worried as we think?
The Reuters/ Ipsos MORI Political Monitor out today shows that Labour has extended its lead over the Conservatives as having the best policies on healthcare. Labour has always led on this issue, and our latest data shows the largest Labour for almost ten years. However, it is nowhere near the dominance they held on the NHS throughout the 1990s and it has not translated into more people saying they will vote for the party, so far at least.
There are certainly concerns about the Coalition’s proposed reforms. Many people think that waiting times will increase over the next year, but our trend data shows that waiting times are rarely seen as getting better. A third thinks that standards of treatment will get worse, but half of the public thinks that they will not change (and two-thirds of us think that the NHS provides patients with the best possible treatment at present). Two in five people think that efficiency in the health service will get worse, but a significant minority – one in five – are optimistic about the Coalition’s plans to increase value for public money. And crucially, over half of the public think that the service provided by GPs – the key touch-point with the NHS for most people - will stay the same.
While the NHS reforms have been heralded as controversial by many healthcare professionals and parts of the media, the public is, so far, reserving judgement.