A new YouGov poll suggests that the UK public views care for the elderly and weekend access to GPs as the top priorities for the NHS.

Respondents were asked what they thought the health service should prioritise over the next five years, scoring as many options as they felt relevant.

Fifty-seven percent chose care for the elderly and 54% chose access to GPs at weekends. The other options were: care closer to home, which scored 51%; prevention, i.e. tackling public health issues like smoking and obesity, which scored 46%; and greater use of technology, which scored 27 percent.

The research was conducted for the Health+Care and Commissioning conference on the 24-25th of June, which will bring together more than 8,000 health and social care providers and commissioners to discuss agendas and solutions for the NHS.

“Smarter, not harder”

“It is hugely reassuring that the general public view care of the elderly as a priority, which is too often swept aside as a Cinderella service,” says conference speaker Martin Green, chief executive of Care England.

“One of our main challenges as a country is an ageing population living with one or many long-term conditions. Their dignity and quality of life remains our absolute priority. All new governments set increasing expectations for the health and social care system and the current administration will do this against the backdrop of austerity.

“The most important thing for commissioners to know is how to work smarter, not harder, in order to deliver a high quality and sustainable service.”

The government has already announced plans for seven-day NHS services. However the NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group recently suspended a pilot testing seven-day access to GPs due to a lack of patient demand at the weekend.