Should the NHS become more of a lifestyle coach to tackle unhealthy living?

Most people are confident that the NHS can meet their needs. But, when it comes to the NHS at 100 confidence falls by half. We explore recent polling that indicates people think they should be responsible for staying healthy but want the NHS to help.
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“What’s clear from this polling is that most people believe it's up to us to stay healthy but want the NHS to support us in doing that.
— Neil Tester, Deputy Director at Healthwatch England

In a recent poll, we asked people how confident they are that NHS and social care services can meet their needs. Over 60% of people said they were confident in current services.

When we asked the same people about their confidence in the ability of services to meet their needs in 30 years’ time, less than a third (30%) agreed they were confident.

Commissioned as part of our #NHS100 conversation to explore what people want from health and care services in the future, the survey found that 70% of people either are not confident or don’t know if services in 2048 will be able to meet their needs.

Why so much uncertainty? 

To understand some of the reasons, we asked people about some the factors they think will have the biggest impact on the future health of the nation.

Our diets, the level of exercise people are taking and the environment were the top three issues people chose - indicating public awareness about the challenges our society faces in the decades ahead.

To identify who people think could play a role in solving these issues, we also asked who is most responsible for ensuring people are healthy. The number one answer people chose was themselves, followed by the NHS - indicating that individuals think they should take the steps needed to stay healthy but want the NHS to play a big role.

Commenting on the findings, Healthwatch England Deputy Director Neil Tester said:

“As the NHS draws up a plan which will shape the support we get for the next decade, we’re hosting a conversation to make sure we are all on the right track for at least the next generation.

“The future is never clear but public awareness about the impact of unhealthy lifestyles and pollution are heightening uncertainty about the future support people can expect.

“What’s clear from this polling is that most people believe it's up to us to stay healthy but want the NHS to support us in doing that

"Does this mean a future where the NHS is more of lifestyle coach - helping people keep well as part of a preventative approach - not just fixing them when things go wrong?

“We want everyone to have their say about this and to think about everything that could help us achieve a healthier future. So we’re also asking people to consider the relationships that might be needed between councils, charities, employers and other organisations to help make this happen."

Join the national conversation

Our #NHS100 conversation is a chance for you to have your say on how you think the NHS will look at 80 and beyond.

Join the conversation

Exploring the numbers   

People's confidence now and in the future

We asked over 2000 UK adults about their confidence in the ability of services to meet their needs today and in 20-30 years' time.

Positively, 61% of respondents are confident that NHS and social care services are currently able to meet their immediate needs. However, when we asked people if they are confident NHS and social care services will able to meet the needs they are likely to have in the future, only 30% agreed.

We also asked people about their confidence in the NHS and social care services in meeting the needs of their friends and family. 62% were confident that services could currently meet these needs, falling to 27% when we asked people agree if they were confident in the ability of services to meet the needs of their friends and family in 20-30 years time.

I am confident that the NHS and social care services are currently able to meet any needs I might or already have.

Top five factors people think will have the biggest impact on the future health of the nation

  1. People's diets
  2. The level of exercise in people's daily lives
  3. Air pollution, global warming and climate change
  4. Social isolation and loneliness
  5. The financial outlook for the country

Who should be responsible for our health?

We also asked people to think about who should be responsible for ensuring that people are healthy, asking people to rank each option from the most responsible to the least responsible.

  • 71% of people we asked said that they think the individual should be the most responsible for ensuring that they are healthy, with the NHS being deemed the second most responsible.
  • The organisations people think should be the least responsible for people’s health are charities, followed by media.

Download

To find out more detail about our polling results download them in full.

If you need this report in a different format, please email enquiries@healthwatch.co.uk or call 03000 68 3000.

 

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