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'Damning': Vast majority of Brits lose faith in crisis-struck NHS's ability to offer good enough care if they fall ill

12 January 2023, 18:18

The NHS has been struck by crises
The NHS has been struck by crises. Picture: Alamy

By Ben Kentish

The vast majority of people in the UK have lost faith that the NHS will be able to offer them an acceptable level of care if they fall ill, shocking new figures seen by LBC have revealed.

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Almost four in five Britons now expect to face a lengthy wait for an ambulance in an emergency, according to a new survey, while three in four think it is likely that they would need to be treated in a hospital corridor due to a lack of available beds.

More than eight in ten people predict they would face a long delay sitting in pain in A&E before being treated.

The figures highlight the extent of pessimism and concern among voters over the state of the NHS – a finding that will worry government ministers as they battle to contain a range of crises in the health service.

Read more: Ambulance delays and A&E waiting times worst ever but waiting list falls

The polling, by Savanta for the Liberal Democrats, found that 79% of people think it is likely they would face a long wait for an ambulance in an emergency, while 83% predict that they would have to endure a lengthy delay sitting in pain in A&E.

74% believe they would have to be treated in a corridor because of a lack of ward space in hospitals.

And more than one in three people (37%) predict that they will have to turn to DIY dentistry because of a lack of NHS dentist appointments.

81% predict having to wait a long time for a routine operation, while 75% expect a lengthy delay if they want a face-to-face appointment with a GP.

The findings are revealed by LBC on the day that official figures showed record waiting times for ambulances in England.

The average ambulance response time last month rose to just under 11 minutes for the most urgent incidents – the longest since records began and almost four minutes longer than the target of seven minutes.

Read more: Teacher strikes avoided after union fails to meet ballot threshold despite 'overwhelming' support

The average wait for category 2 ambulance calls, which includes patients who have suffered a heart attack or stroke, rose to over an hour and a half. The target is 18 minutes.

Commenting on the polling, Daisy Cooper, the Liberal Democrats’ health spokesperson, told LBC: "These are incredibly stark findings. Even though our NHS has been around for 70 years, it seems that the vast majority of the public now simply do not have faith that, when they are in their time of need and they need emergency help, that help is going to be available.

"That is a damning indictment of the fact that the Conservative government has been driving our health and social care services into the ground for years and years and years.

"For anybody in the country who finds themselves needing emergency care, they're going to be simply terrified that it's not going to be there for them."

The Department of Health and Social Care has been contacted for comment.

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