18 Jul 2018

The latest instalment of the Hanover Health Tracker charts the UK public’s now growing confidence in the NHS. The Prime Minister’s announcement of the £20.5 billion real-terms funding increase over the next five years and the development of a new ten-year plan are both clearly contributing to a renewed sense of positivity for the NHS of today and tomorrow. With the ‘winter crisis’ now a distant memory, the months of good news for the NHS has also translated into many recalling the NHS’s past history in a warmer light than before too.

Our national poll of over 2,000 adults from across the UK, conducted in partnership with Populus, confirms the rising measures of satisfaction across all areas, with only Brexit weighing in as a threat to improving services.


Public more satisfied with the NHS

Overall satisfaction rates are up considerably from the 61% reported in May and 62% in January, with 69% now satisfied with the NHS. Those aged 65 and over remain the most satisfied and the 35-44 age group are now once again the most negative, after May saw those aged 25-34 take this position. Those who believe the NHS is a world class service is also up on previous months, 79% in July from 76% in May and 73% in January, with only 9% disagreeing.

A brighter future for the NHS

The public now look back at services more positively. In July 31% of people agreed and 32% of people disagreed that NHS services have improved in the last five years, compared to 42% of people disagreeing in May. At the same time, optimism for the future of the NHS remains strong. 53% of those surveyed have greater confidence that the NHS will “continue to provide a comprehensive service, free at the point of care, in 10 years’ time”, up from 45% in May and 39% in December. As previously, older people are more confident than younger people.

A&E still a concern for many, but satisfaction of services in general on the rise

A&E services have consistently stood out for low approval ratings since last year. July is no exception, with only 26% of those surveyed agreeing A&E departments are suitably staffed, a 5% rise since May but only a modest 1% climb since December despite the end of the ‘winter crisis’. The broader picture is more encouraging though. May to July saw a 5% increase (to 77%) in those who believe that the NHS provides “comprehensive and accessible high quality care” and a 4% increase (to 64%) for those who think GP care is both high quality and accessible.

Positivity on access to medicines

Since the winter, the number of people who agree that the NHS “is able to ensure patients can access the latest medicines” has increased from 39% in December to 47% in July. Older people remain the most concerned, but the gap in perception with younger people has narrowed from a difference of 24% in May to 18% in July.

Brexit again seen as a threat to the NHS

The May poll found that views on Brexit were finely balanced with the public split 32%-32% on whether Brexit would have a negative impact on NHS services. In July, however, the sentiment echoes previous findings, displaying a larger number of people who view Brexit as a threat (34% agree compared to 31% disagree). As before, younger people are more likely to believe that Brexit will have a negative impact.

Public satisfaction with social care stable but still low

July saw a modest increase of 1% (to 29%) in those who believe “adult social care services provide a good standard of care to those who use it”, compared to 29% in the January report and 25% in the December report. This small uptick is driven by the strengthened positive perception in younger generations (18-24 increase from 27% agreeing to 39%) outweighing falling confidence in older generations (65+ fall from 29% agreeing to 24%).


Populus interviewed a nationally representative sample of 2,057 UK adults aged 18+ from its online panel between 6-8 July 2018. Populus previously interviewed a representative sample of 2,183 UK adults between 6-7 December 2017, 2,071 UK adults between 29-30 January, and 2,078 UK adults between 11-13 May. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.populus.co.uk.

For more information on the Hanover Health Tracker please contact Thomas Cawston, Head of Health Policy at tcawston@hanovercomms.com.