Poll finds government should work with NHS staff on reforms

The public is not convinced by the direction of NHS reform and wants the government to work with NHS staff instead, according to a poll released today.

The TUC survey comes on the day that hundreds of NHS staff travel to London to lobby Parliament over NHS reform.

The YouGov poll of more than 2,000 people also shows that the government is failing to gain from the improvements to the NHS that extra spending has secured since 1997.

Almost two-thirds (63%) said their own recent experience of the NHS is either ‘good’ or ‘very good’, but this does not translate into a recognition that the NHS has improved, with half (52%) saying that the NHS has got ‘much worse’ or ‘a little worse’.

People are also not impressed by the pace or the direction of NHS reform. Instead, they want government to work with NHS staff who, they believe, are committed to improving patient care, not acting as a vested interest.

Four out of five (81%) either strongly agree (43%) or agree (38%) that ‘when planning changes to the NHS, ministers should do everything they can to involve NHS staff in agreeing to and implementing change’.

Only one in five (22%) think that ‘NHS staff are more interested in hanging on to their perks and jobs than improving care for patients’.

An even greater proportion of voters either strongly agree (41%) or agree (35%) that ‘the government should stop reorganising the health service and let NHS staff get on with improving patient care’.

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said: “This poll should ring alarm bells in government. It shows that the government is not getting the credit it deserves for providing the extra funding that has allowed NHS staff to make big improvements to patient care and to cut waiting times.

“Nor do voters back crucial parts of the government’s reform agenda. Instead they want ministers to work with and to trust NHS staff to make the NHS better, not set hospitals up in competition with each other.”

The lobby of Parliament is being organised by the new NHS Together alliance of all the unions and staff associations that represent NHS staff.

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