Reputation survey: National Health Service - Public pans A&E plan

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley plans to scrap the four-hour waiting target at A&E departments, but new research suggests this would not be welcomed by the public.

Government plans to scrap the four-hour waiting target in NHS A&E departments announced on 9 June are not supported by the public, new figures show.

The target dictates that patients arriving at A&E departments should be seen within four hours. According to PRWeek/OnePoll's latest survey of 3,000 members of the public, 64 per cent do not believe the target should be abolished.

In fact, 73 per cent said scrapping the target had been mooted purely to save money, not to improve patient care, as Lansley has indicated.

This was backed up by the fact that 73 per cent of respondents did not believe patient care would improve if the target were abolished.

NHS targets overall have had their share of bad press, but an emphatic 80 per cent of respondents did not think all targets should be scrapped.

When it comes to the NHS as an institution, it seems the bad press it regularly experiences has taken a toll.

Sixty-one per cent of respondents thought the care available on the NHS was worse than the care available in the private healthcare sector.

Just seven per cent believed the NHS's care was better. And 58 per cent of respondents did not think the new administration would improve the NHS.

Spending targets leading to a reduced quality of healthcare was chosen by 49 per cent of respondents as their biggest concern about the NHS, followed by hospital-based infections such as MRSA, which was highlighted by 22 per cent.


The NHS is an issue for every government. The most important change that needs to happen in our healthcare system is for everyone to have access to the best possible care, including medicines, whether that is for emergencies or serious illnesses such as cancer, Alzheimer's or multiple sclerosis.

It is interesting the public thinks that you get better care privately than you do on the NHS. Our NHS specialists are among the best in the world, but you may be treated more quickly and in a cleaner and more pleasant environment if you are lucky enough to have private health insurance.

I am not surprised that people believe cuts in NHS spending will lead to standards of care being compromised. Extending GP hours could be seen as a good option. However, I expect most people would be happy if they could be seen by a GP on the day they were actually ill, rather than a week later.

- Do you consider NHS care to be better or worse than that available in the private sector?

Better 7%

The same 32%

Worse 61%

- Do you think NHS healthcare is better or worse than healthcare in other countries?

Worse 17%

Better 58%

The same 25%

TARGETS - 80% of respondents said the Government should not abolish all NHS targets

MONEY - 73% believed saving money was the motivation to scrap the four-hour A&E waiting target

SURGERIES - 69% said GP surgeries should be open outside of normal weekday office hours

CUTS - 4% agreed that the Government should make spending cuts in the NHS.

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