People no longer believe the NHS will treat them quickly if they fall ill, according to a new poll which shows widespread dissatisfaction about the state of the health service. The Sunday Times has more.
With hundreds of ambulances stacked outside overstretched A&E departments and patients languishing on record waiting lists, voters are far more likely to say the service has worsened than improved in the last year.
Fifty-eight per cent are not confident they would receive timely treatment from the NHS if they fell ill tomorrow, with 36% not confident at all and 22% just not confident. Meanwhile, 45% believe the service they receive has worsened in the past 12 months. Just over half think it has become harder to get an appointment with their local doctor while 41% think their local GP service has worsened.
The poll, by YouGov for the Sunday Times, comes as Steve Barclay, the Health Secretary, reveals a blueprint to address the crisis. He is spearheading the recruitment of 20,000 nurses from Sri Lanka and India, with more staff brought in to deal with the social care crisis.
He has been in discussion with the Home Office about reducing visa fees to help smooth the passage for the new arrivals, who will be filling roles included in the government’s shortage occupation list. Ministers will also set up a “clearing house” to match foreign workers with jobs in care homes to streamline the recruitment process. Recruiting overseas is supported by almost three quarters of voters, according to the YouGov poll.
Barclay also wants to give social care staff a pay rise to avert a winter crisis by plugging gaps in the workforce. There are 165,000 job vacancies in the social care sector as staff quit to work in better-paid jobs stacking shelves in supermarkets or working in hospitality. He is understood to be recommending an immediate increase in the national living wage to £10.32 an hour, rising to £10.50 from April.
Barclay is not expected to remain in post after the new prime minister is appointed but the new poll makes clear the next inhabitant of 10 Downing St will need a plan to tackle the NHS if voters are to back them to stay.