Monday 2 July 2012

- One in six over 50s cite cleanliness and communication as key concerns - More than twice as many over 50s report decline in NHS perceptions since 2010



Research amongst the over 50s, the biggest users of the NHS, shows that 60% of those who have used the NHS in the last 12 months have some concerns regarding the hospital in which they were treated. The study by Saga Health Insurance* also shows that the perception of the NHS amongst all ages is declining.

It is not the medical treatment, but the environment and communication that cause the most angst.  Car parking was the biggest concern for more than a third (34%) of over 50s compared to just over a fifth (22%) of those under 50.  Other major concerns for those over 50 were about communication with medical staff, where one in five (18%) voiced concern (13% of those under 50), whilst both age groups were equally concerned with how clean the hospital appeared (18%). 

40% of those over 50 who have used an NHS hospital in the last 12 months said they had no concerns regarding the hospital and almost half of over 50s said they would have no concerns about the quality of treatment they would receive on the NHS.

However, perceptions of the NHS among the over 50s have got markedly worse over the last two years. The research reveals that in 2010 16% felt that it had got worse over the previous two years, but the latest survey carried out in 2012 shows that 36% now feel there has been a decline.  Whilst 40% of over 50s thought the NHS would get worse over the next two years, a third (32%) of 18-24 years olds thought it would improve.

Recent reports indicate that some NHS trusts are delaying what they consider to be ‘non-urgent’ treatment and that a third of NHS executives say waiting times have risen**.

On average NHS wait times from referral to treatment for ophthalmology treatments (e.g. cataracts) are 9.2 weeks and 12.3 weeks for trauma and orthopaedic treatments (e.g. joint replacements).  Health insurance can give people control of their treatment and provide peace of mind.  Following referral to a consultant, patients can arrange their own appointment and be promptly admitted for private care.  The other benefits of health cover include being able to see the same consultant throughout the treatment, which helps improve communication between doctor and patient, free car parking in many private hospitals and a clean private room to recover in.

Roger Ramsden, Chief Executive, Saga Services commented: “Many over 50s see there is a need for improvement in the NHS.  Whilst people are still, in the main, confident with the quality of the NHS treatment, it is the wider hospital service that can be significantly improved upon, better communication between doctor and patient would go a long way to achieve this.  Waiting times are always of key interest to the over 50s and recent reports suggesting that some trusts may be limiting ‘non-urgent’ treatment, will only serve to cause greater concern.”


Notes to Editors:

*Populus interviewed 2,048 adults online between 11th and 13th May 2012. 960 respondents were over 50, and 488 were retired. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
**Survey of more than 200 NHS chief executives for the NHS Confederation

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