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Independents' Day

Most patients 'do not want private sector involvement' in NHS

By Nigel Praities

Patients do not want private sector involvement in the NHS despite having less choice compared with healthcare systems in other countries, according to a survey published today by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The survey found six in ten respondents in the UK said they are not encouraged to choose from a range of doctors or hospitals for their treatment, while seven in ten respondents in the US said that choice was encouraged.

Three-quarters of UK patients said they would like to be offered a choice of healthcare provider, but fewer than one-quarter agreed private-sector involvement would improve the level of choice in the NHS.

Overall, UK respondents were significantly less satisfied on some aspects of healthcare than in the US, but were more satisfied with the quality of their physicians.

Nearly 30% of Britons said the UK Government had the right approach on healthcare, compared with just 8% in Germany and 13% in the US.

A fifth of British respondents expressed satisfaction on waiting times for operations, versus 30% in the US and a quarter said they would be willing to pay to reduce these waiting times, a far higher proportion than in the other countries.

John Appleby, chief economist at think-tank the King's Fund, said the results showed the public were committed to a publicly funded NHS despite their dissatisfaction with some aspects of the service they receive.

‘For the public, the NHS is not quite untouchable but it is very well-supported,' he said.

The study was based on a survey of 1,575 citizens from the UK, US, Germany and India, including 360 respondents from the UK.

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