Concern about the NHS has soared against the background of the biggest doctors’ strike in history, according to new research.
An Ipsos UK survey carried out between April 5 and 12 found that 29% of those questioned listed the NHS as one of the most important issues facing Britain today, up eight points from the previous month.
The poll took place as the largest doctors’ strike in NHS history got under way, leading to almost 200,000 hospital appointments being rescheduled over the four-day walkout.
But despite the disruption in the health service, inflation remained the public’s top priority, with 40% of respondents listing it as one of the UK’s major issues and 24% saying it is the single most important issue.
Concern about inflation is particularly high in Scotland, where 50% of people mentioned it as one of their top issues.
The economy was the second biggest issue for the public, with 33% of those surveyed mentioning it as important, making the NHS the third most important problem.
Immigration was in fourth place, mentioned by 20% of people – unchanged from March – but there was a marked partisan divide, with 36% of Conservative voters mentioning the issue compared with 12% of Labour supporters.
There was a smaller partisan split on the NHS, with 36% of Labour voters mentioning it as an issue compared with 25% of Tories, but both parties’ supporters were worried about the health service and registered significant increases in concern since March.
Concern about schools and housing also saw significant increases, rising by four points to 12% and 13% respectively.
Ipsos researcher Mike Clemence said: “Inflation continues to be the leading concern for Britons this month but we have seen rising concern about a host of other issues.
“Most notably, at a time of significant healthcare strike action, concern about the NHS has increased by eight points. But worry about housing and education has also risen.”