Press Release: New research reveals the public don't realise the full extent of the NHS funding crisis

CPP conducted public deliberation on NHS funding and system reform

Any new money should be spent on improvements to existing services and nurses’ pay, not in filling in holes in the current finances which the public attributed to overpaid management staff and the cost of waste.

The research found the participants struggled with the idea that even the extra £20.5bn per year of promised government funding would be insufficient given the increasing demand and pressures on the NHS. The public felt that the NHS could get better value by reducing waste and cutting numbers of non‐clinical staff. Reducing reliance on agency workers and restricting use of NHS services for non‐UK citizens were most commonly cited ways to find further savings.

The last decade saw a number of concerted efficiency drives, including the ‘Nicholson Challenge’ in the immediate wake of the financial crisis. But as CPP argued in Diagnosis Critical, closing the long-term NHS funding gap will require both productivity improvements and additional resource for health and social care.

Forming part of CPP’s 12-month inquiry on health and social care, this insight into public opinion was gathered from a representative sample of the English population over the course of one day.

Members of the public were asked a series of questions about health and social care funding and reform. After rigorous discussion, participants were asked to vote where to spend additional government spending: improving health and social care services, keeping people healthy throughout their lives, or a combined approach. The majority of participants (39 out of 50) voted for a combined approach.

However, when forced to decide between the two options, 70 per cent suggested the money should be spent on health and social care services, while the remaining 30 per cent of participants said it should be spent on keeping people healthy.

Advocates of public health and investment in tackling the ‘social determinants of health’ might welcome this endorsement. According to 2016 figures from the Office for National Statistics, only 5.1% (£7.8 billion) of the total health and care budget ($152.2 billion) goes on prevention. Participants saw the case for why, as CPP argues in its recent report, Diagnosis Critical, there should be investment in wider social and economic infrastructure as a driver of health and wellbeing. However, there was a sense amongst the participants that this was already happening, and many community activities were not within the government or NHS’ remit.

Charlotte Alldritt, Director of CPP, draws attention to the fact that the public expect to see tangible results from extra funding injected into the NHS:

“It’s abundantly clear that the public will not accept that any new money injected into the NHS simply allows the service to stand still. They expect to see new facilities, with world-class equipment and wards run by well-paid nursing NHS staff. But a more significant shift away from dependence on expensive, hospital-based care will require a more honest conversation with the electorate. The creation of health cannot sit within the boundaries of NHS services alone.”

Sir Cyril Chantler, a member of CPP’s Health and Social Care Advisory Board, commented:

“It is interesting that the public, while accepting the need for more money for the NHS, recognise the need to improve outcomes and efficiency. CPP’s engagement with the public also links to other research that emphasises the importance of health and social care – and therefore the NHS and local government – working more closely and effectively together.”

Sonia Abrahams, Director at Populus, said:

“Although participants saw value in initiatives aimed at keeping people healthy, they thought that the current crisis in health and social care was too big an issue, requiring, if not all, then most of the focus of future spending. There was real concern that health outcomes would deteriorate without sustained focus on acute care and access to GP appointments.”

Notes to editors


Contact details

Thomas Hauschildt, Communications Manager, CPP

020 7070 3370

Rachel Shortte, Account Manager, ZPB Associates

07834 523 001


CPP and Populus gathered the insight during a one-day deliberative forum. The 50 participants were broadly representative of the English population, in terms of: age, gender, socio-economic grade, ethnicity, urban/rural spread. They were also recruited to ensure:

  • • an even split of Leave and Remain voters at the 2016 EU referendum
  • • a mix of parties voted for at the 2017 General Election.

The deliberative approach is essentially qualitative in nature. Whilst participants voted on options throughout the day (the results of which are shown in this report), most data presented in this report (including ranking of suggestions and scenarios) is qualitative and based on moderated discussions held over the course of the day and smaller group exercises.

About CPP

CPP is a new think tank committed to making inclusive economic growth a reality, led by Charlotte Alldritt, former Senior Policy Advisor to Nick Clegg. By working with national and local partners, our aim is to devise effective, pragmatic policy solutions to drive productivity and shared prosperity in the UK. Inclusive growth is one of the most urgent questions facing advanced economies where stagnant real wages are squeezing living standards and wealth is increasingly concentrated.

CPP believes that a new approach to growth is needed, harnessing the best of central and local government to shape the national economic environment and build on the assets and opportunities of place. CPP is independent and impartial. We are not aligned with any political party and are a not-for profit organisation. We are fully funded by Lord David Sainsbury, as part of his work on public policy.

For more information or to interview Charlotte Alldritt, please contact Rachel Shortte at ZPB Associates:

About Populus

Populus is a full service award-winning research and strategy consultancy. Set up in 2003, their goal has been to equip companies and individuals with a sophisticated understanding of their markets, audiences and brands.

Populus is a trusted adviser to some of the UK’s biggest companies, individuals and brands and use polling, research, evidence and expertise to provide clients with the critical knowledge they need to succeed. Their work helps clients identify, understand and influence the critical issues and audiences that can make the difference between success and failure.