This week, Britain celebrates the 70th birthday of the NHS.
It feels as though we’re helping a favourite grandparent ease into their eighth decade – there will be tea parties, memories shared and deep affection expressed.
But amid the celebrations, there will be unwelcome fears to be confronted.
How many more birthdays will there be? Will we be celebrating in 10 years’ time?
On Saturday June 30thousands marched through central London both to celebrate the institution and to protest to make sure it stays public in the face of what many perceive as creeping privatisation.
A new survey by Atomik Research has found that 59% of Brits feel the NHS is gradually being privatised.
The belief is higher among men (65%) than women (53%) and the fear is highest among Millennials aged 25-35 at 73%.
Londoners fear creeping privatisation more than other areas of the country, with 78% worried about the issue and least concerned are those in the south east (60%) according to the research.
We Brits clearly love the NHS – for all its flaws – and defend it to the hilt when it is attacked by foreign politicians.
The priorities for the NHS’ next 10 years among according to the research, are to reduce waiting times, increased government funding and better pay for doctors and nurses.
A huge majority of us would happily pay an extra 1p on National Insurance – as long as we could be certain that the money is ring-fenced and will directly fund our overstretched hospitals, doctors and nurses.
An overwhelming 90% of Brits said they would happily contribute an extra 1p if strict conditions were met.
Women slightly outnumbered men, with 91% saying they would stump up compared to 89% of men.
The survey showed young Brits aged 16-24 were most in favour of the small tax rise, with 92% backing such a move.
Those aged 36-49 were least in favour, but at a percentage of 88%, this still represents huge backing for such a move across all age groups.
People in Wales are most in favour of such a move, with 93% backing it and in England, the strongest support comes from the north east, north west and the West Midlands, where 92% of those surveyed said they would back it.
When given the option of a range of publicly funded services, Brits would overwhelmingly want to keep the NHS.
Sixty-one per cent said that, if all but one of Britain’s taxpayer-funded services had to be dropped, the NHS should be the one to stay.
The NHS’ nearest challenger was the Armed Forces, which received nine per cent of the vote.
Brits’ top 10 priorities for the NHS over the next 10 years are:
- Reduce waiting times (54%)
- More government funding (51%)
- Better wages to aid staff retention and attract top quality candidates (50%)
- Increased spending on social care (41%)
- More resources for mental health care (39%)
- More specialist staff, i.e. midwives, community health workers (37%)
- Centralised procurement systems so different trusts don’t pay different amounts for the same piece of kit (37%)
- Reduced prescription fees (25%)