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Public satisfaction with the NHS has dropped to the lowest level on record, according to findings from a long-running poll.

Just 24% of people said they were satisfied with the health service in 2023, with poor access to GPs and long wait times for hospital treatment the main reasons for dissatisfaction.

More than 3,000 people across England, Scotland and Wales were surveyed for the British Social Attitudes poll, which is seen as a reliable barometer for how people feel about the NHS.

Satisfaction levels were down five percentage points from the year before – falling to the lowest level since records began in 1983.

From A&E to dentistry, satisfaction with every service is at or near historic lows. Results for social care were even worse, where just 13% were happy.

When asked what the most important priorities for the NHS should be, 52% said making it easier to get a GP appointment and 51% said increasing staff numbers.

Improving waiting times in A&E and for planned operations closely followed – chosen by 47% and 45% of people respectively.

Crucially however, support for the founding principles behind the NHS – free at the point of use, available to everyone and primarily funded through taxes – has remained constant.

This indicates the public do not want a change to the NHS – they just want the model they have got to work, a report analysing the poll said.

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Public fiercely loyal to NHS principles

The headline makes grim reading for the NHS – but not for NHS staff.

There’s a clear distinction between the two.

Respondents to the survey are clearly dissatisfied with long waiting times.

That frustration is totally understandable.

But what they make clear is that they fully support NHS staff who they feel are doing a good job under extremely difficult circumstances.

They are also fiercely loyal to the institution itself and do not want its founding principle to change: free for all from cradle to grave.

They want see more funding for the health service and extra staff – and some are willing to see the extra money needed to come from more tax.

But politicians gearing up for an election will know that bringing the NHS up to the levels that recorded high satisfaction more than 10 years ago will require record investment.

‘Continual state of crisis’

Satisfaction with the NHS peaked 14 years ago in 2010, when 70% of people were satisfied with the health service. But since 2020, levels have dropped by 29 percentage points.

“A decade of squeezed funding and chronic workforce shortages followed by a global pandemic has left the NHS in a continual state of crisis,” the report said.

When it comes to funding a whopping 84% of people polled said they thought the NHS had a severe problem, with 48% voting that ministers should increase taxes and spend more on the health service.

It was people with the most monthly income that were more likely to choose “increase taxes and spend more on the NHS” than keep taxes the same or reduce them.

Dan Wellings, a senior fellow at the King’s Fund – which sponsors health and care questions in the poll – said political leaders should “take note” of how far satisfaction levels have fallen ahead of the upcoming general election.

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Professor Pat Cullen, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, added that any party wanting to be in Downing Street in a year “must demonstrate clear intent” of investing in nursing to improve pay conditions and stabilise the workforce.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said it was “fully committed” to a “faster, simpler and fairer NHS” and has seen “good progress” in cutting waiting lists in England.

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“We are providing the NHS with record funding of nearly £165bn a year by the end of this Parliament, an increase of 13% in real terms compared to 2019,” they said.

“Overall NHS waiting lists have decreased for the fourth month in a row and we’ve delivered on our commitment to provide an extra 50 million GP appointments months ahead of schedule.”

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Sunak set for week-long blitz of announcements amid talk of no-confidence vote and summer election




Sunak set for week-long blitz of announcements amid talk of no-confidence vote and summer election

Rishi Sunak is undertaking a week-long blitz of activity and announcements at home and abroad in a bid to convince a sceptical party he has the ideas and drive to continue as prime minister.

After weeks of criticism about an empty legislative agenda, an inability to set the agenda, and divisions in the Tory Party dominating the headlines, this week “action man” Mr Sunak will seek to take back control with news conferences, interviews and announcements.

On the Politics At Jack And Sam’s podcast, we discuss how Mr Sunak is aware of a possible challenge to his position with a vote of no confidence after the local and mayoral elections on 2 May.

He is undertaking a burst of activity to be able to point to his MPs to a rich agenda both this side of a general election and beyond.

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‘Patience is thin’ over Rwanda bill delays

On Monday, the PM will hold a news conference to champion the likely passage into law of the emergency Rwanda legislation first announced last year.

Then on Tuesday, he will embark on a two-day European trip, beginning in Warsaw, with a major announcement planned as part of the trip.

Some sources expect the announcement to be defence-related, possibly around jointly training troops and sharing equipment with Poland and the West Balkans.

This is Mr Sunak’s first major trip on to the world stage in months, apart from a brief visit to Ukraine.

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It follows his first set-piece speech outside the Commons last Friday about welfare reform.

Many of the ideas there were designed for the manifesto and to be implemented in the next parliament in the unlikely event the Tories win.

The looming spectre of a challenge has led to some conversations about holding the election over the summer, with the starting gun fired possibly even announced before the local elections.

This remains unlikely, however, since it would be possible for the opposition to present this as a move prompted by panic, and the Tories remain around 20 points behind in the polls.

Therefore appealing to his party to allow him to stay in the job, by showing a blizzard of action and announcements, is a priority for Mr Sunak amid continued speculation about his party’s unhappiness.

Some 57 Tory MPs voted against his flagship smoking ban policy last week, with a further more than 100 abstaining, in a sign of his lack of grip on the party.

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The Week… Rishi tries to save his skin




The Week... Rishi tries to save his skin

Two of Westminster’s best-connected journalists, Sky News’s Sam Coates and Politico’s Jack Blanchard, guide you through their top predictions for the next seven days in British politics.

This week, they react to MP Mark Menzies’ resignation from the Conservative Party and look at what it might mean for the next election.

Also this week, Rishi Sunak is packing his bags for Europe. Jack and Sam discuss what’s on the trip’s agenda, including highly anticipated announcements on the defence of Ukraine, as well as the UK’s wider defence and warfare strategy.

Mr Sunak’s Rwanda plan could finally pass through parliament too, more than five months after he unveiled the emergency laws. Jack and Sam reveal the final stage will be far from straightforward though, with MPs told to expect a long night in the Commons.

Plus, Angela Rayner is standing in for Keir Starmer at PMQs this week, the first time she’s been in the Commons since police announced they were investigating her. Jack and Sam discuss how she’ll deal with the mounting pressure.

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Mark Menzies: MP accused of misusing campaign funds quits Tory Party and won’t stand at next election




Mark Menzies: MP accused of misusing campaign funds quits Tory Party and won't stand at next election

An MP facing allegations of misusing campaign funds has quit the Conservative Party and says he won’t stand at the next general election.

Claims surfaced earlier this week in The Times that Mark Menzies had used political donations to cover medical expenses and pay off “bad people” who had reportedly locked him in a flat and demanded thousands of pounds for his release.

The backbench MP for Fylde in Lancashire disputed the allegations but was suspended from the Conservative parliamentary party while an investigation took place.

In a statement, Mr Menzies said: “It has been an enormous privilege representing the people of Fylde since 2010, but due to the pressures on myself and my elderly mother, I have decided to resign from the Conservative Party and will not stand at the forthcoming general election.

“This has been a very difficult week for me and I request that my family’s privacy is respected.”

Lancashire Police said it was reviewing “information” about Mr Menzies after Labour asked for an investigation.

Speaking to Sky News’ Electoral Dysfunction podcast, former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson had called the latest scandal and allegations against Mr Menzies “jaw-dropping”.

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The claims surrounding Mr Menzies came to light after the outgoing MP’s former campaign manager, Katie Fieldhouse, spoke to the Times, prompting the Conservative Party to launch its own internal investigation into whether there had been a misuses of its funds.

She claimed the Conservative Party was aware the allegations about Mr Menzies were potentially criminal, alleging that the party’s chief of staff “told me that when they first took over the investigation [from the Whips’ Office] they had consulted solicitors”.

She added: “He told me on the phone, ‘the solicitor said it is fraud but you are not duty-bound to report it because it’s not Conservative Party money’.”

On Sunday a Conservative Party spokesperson said its investigation was now complete and had found there had not been a misuse of funds – but that it had identified a “pattern of behaviour that falls below the standards expected of MPs”.

“The money in question that was sent to Mark Menzies MP was signed off by the two signatories of Fylde Westminster Group,” the spokesperson said.

“This body sits outside of the remit of both the Conservative Party and Fylde Conservative Association. Therefore we cannot conclude that there has been a misuse of Conservative Party funds.

“However, we do believe that there has been a pattern of behaviour that falls below the standards expected of MPs and individuals looking after donations to local campaign funds which lie outside the direct jurisdiction of the Conservative Party.

“We will therefore be commencing with retraining individuals across the party on how to manage these accounts which fall outside of the remit of the Conservative Party and are introducing a whistleblowing helpline.”

They continued: “Furthermore, whilst outside of the initial scope of this investigation, there has also been a recommendation that the actions of the MP in question have also potentially breached the Nolan principals of public life.”

“This is due to the nature of the allegations made, but also the repetitive nature of these separate allegations. These will be reviewed by the Conservative Party’s member governance team.

“We will of course share any information with the police if they believe it would be helpful to any investigation they decide to undertake.

“Suggestions the party has not been seriously examining this matter are demonstrably false as we have worked to protect the identities of all those involved whilst the facts could be established.”

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