Eighty-two percent of adults are worried about the future of the NHS, while 60 percent fear that the service is heading in the “wrong direction”, according to findings of a poll carried out by the British Medical Association.

The survey of 1,000 adults also revealed a significant jump in the number dissatisfied with the NHS, which now stands at 43 percent compared to 33 percent who were satisfied with the service, marking a significant turnaround from the 21 percent and 56 percent, respectively, reported for 2015.

Furthermore, almost two thirds (62 percent) expect the NHS to get worse in the coming years (versus 39 percent two years ago), with the top three concerns being: a lack of funding (50 percent); that the NHS will cease to be free at the point of use (41 percent); and that waiting times will increase (35 percent).

"It's saddening to hear that so many patients are not satisfied with the services they are now getting from the NHS, particularly as we know how much our patients love the health service, and historically satisfaction rates have been much higher,” said Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, responding to the figures.

"Workload in general practice has risen 16 percent over the last seven years according to recent research, but over the same period resources for our service have declined, and our workforce has not risen in step with patient demand.”

A poll of doctors by the BMA has also painted a bleak picture from the other side of the fence, with 71 percent saying that it has become more difficult for patients trying to access NHS care over that past 12 months. Longer waiting times for admissions and for GP appointments was the most often cited reason for the downturn.

‘Running on fumes’
In his address to the BMA’s annual conference, chairman Dr Mark Porter said the NHS is now “running on nothing but fumes” and at “breaking point”.

“The lack of beds, the lack of doctors, and the queues for treatment that grow and grow are not inevitable. It doesn’t have to be this way. It is the result of an explicit political choice,” he argued.

“We don’t have to spend less of our GDP than other leading European economies on health. Our government has chosen to do this. If we spent the average – the average, not the most – then patients would see £15 billion extra investment in the English NHS within five years.

“This would meet most of the gap in funding that the government accepts with half of its brain while the other half continues to spout that the NHS is ‘fully funded’.”