Figures from an opinion poll revealed by MORI at the NHS Alliance conference show that a large majority of respondents believe that the NHS should fund any treatment regardless of cost.
The figures, revealed by Ben Page of pollsters IPSOS MORI, found that 41% believe the NHS should provide any effective treatment no matter what it costs. A further 31% believe that the NHS should provide any treatment, even if ineffective, no matter what costs.

Asked whether there should be limits to what the NHS provides, 55% of respondents disagreed, while 29% strongly disagree

He contrasted these with the ‘satisfaction tracking’ studies his firm does on behalf of the Department of Health, which found that 60% of respondents agreed that the NHS is one of the best health systems in the world – a figure that Page noted, even remained true in the NHS deficit era under Patricia Hewitt’s tenure as Health Secretary. 65% of respondents reported being happy with the way the NHS is run.

Asked whether we should ‘fundamentally change’ the way healthcare is provided via the NHS, 80% responded that we should not.

Gloomy about the NHS and public “moral fault”
The juxtaposition of strong public support with a belief that the NHS budget should be unlimited was contrasted with a speech by moral philosopher Baroness Warnock, who despite being a lifelong supporter of the NHS concept, admitted that she was currently “very gloomy” about its future.

Warnock added, “for all the talk of openness and accountability, we are far less than honest that not everything can any longer be afforded. How transparent can we expect NHS managers to be?”

Her suggestion for the future of the NHS was that means-testing should be introduced. Commenting on the MORI figures, she described the “moral obligation not to behave in an absurd and contradictory manner: it’s a moral failing if so many people say there should be no limit to what NHS ought to provide. It’s not just stupidity, it’s a deliberate failure to face facts. I think that’s a moral fault”.