The NHS matters, whoever you voted for. But the dangers are still not seen

A post-election poll by leading political pollster Lord Ashcroft has demonstrated that the NHS is a high priority to most voters – whoever they vote for. Which is encouraging news for NHS campaigners, if only the message can get across. Which it must, if the NHS so many care passionately about is not to split up and become privatised even further. 

Lord Ashcroft’s poll gave some key results for the NHS. What may surprise some was that 49% of Conservative voters put the NHS in the top three most important issues for them and their families, on a par with the economy and jobs. And 28% of all voters who named the NHS in their top three issues voted Conservative, compared with 37% who voted Labour: a 9-point lead.

So it isn’t that people don’t care about the NHS. On the contrary, these results show that most do, and they care enough to rate it as high as the economy in many cases. This should not come as a surprise. The depth of feeling people have about the NHS was demonstrated by an earlier report, also commissioned by Lord Ashcroft, The People, The Parties and the NHS, which also showed distinct groupings of people’s attitudes to the NHS and NHS reforms that cut across party boundaries while showing strong differences between the main parties.

What this latest poll doesn’t address is the belief that the NHS is undergoing privatisation, and what should be done about it. Many people remain simply unaware of the remorseless progress of this, though they demonstrably care about the NHS. And it is up to groups like Doctors for the NHS to ensure that message gets across, before it is too late. Because there is nothing in the current government’s manifesto to indicate it will even recognise the problem, let alone step in to stop it getting worse.

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