Reform 2018 health poll: The majority of electorate believe NHS requires reform more than extra money

February 2018

58 per cent of British voters believe that the NHS needs reform more than it needs extra money, according to a new poll commissioned by the independent think tank Reform.

64 per cent of voters believe that it should not matter whether hospitals or surgeries are run by the government, not-for-profit organisations or the private sector provided that everyone has access to care. This is 2 per cent higher than in 2014, despite the Populus poll of 2,106 people being conducted on the day Carillion went into liquidation.

The think tank finds that 59 per cent of voters would nonetheless be willing to pay higher income tax to fund the NHS. This is up from 33 per cent in 2014. On average, British voters would be willing to pay £5.25 extra a month, which is 0.4 pence in the pound of income tax.

Andrew Haldenby, Reform’s Director, says: “This poll is a reality check for those who see very large spending increases as the solution to the problems of the NHS. The average voter seeks a measured increase in the NHS budget of around £2 billion a year, considerably below the demands made by leading figures in recent days. At the same time, a majority of the public sees reform as more important than budget increases. The poll points to limited increases in health spending combined with a major acceleration of current reform efforts.”

Key findings

  • 59 per cent of people (18+) would be willing to pay higher income tax to fund more spending on the NHS. This is an increase from 33 per cent in Aug 2014.
    – Pensioners (65+) remain the group most likely to support paying extra income tax to fund the NHS, at 65 per cent. This is an increase from 39 per cent in Aug 2014.
  • The average median annual extra voters are willing to pay is £63.01. This is £5.25 a month, or 0.42 pence of extra income tax for UK voters.
  • The corresponding numbers in Aug 2014 were: £33.11 a year, £2.76 a month, or 0.23 pence of extra income tax for UK voters.
  • 58 per cent of people somewhat agree or strongly agree with the statement that the NHS needs reform more than it needs extra money. This is down 2 percentage points since Aug 2014.
  • 64 per cent of people somewhat agree or strongly agree with the statement that it shouldn’t matter whether hospitals or surgeries are run by the government, not-for-profit organisations or the private sector provided that everyone has access to care. This is up 2 percentage points from Aug 2014.
  • 74 per cent of people agree or strongly agree with the statement that the government could make services better and reduce tax if the government reformed public services and cut waste. This up 2 percentage points from Aug 2014.

Read the executive summary here.

See the full poll here.