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Wednesday, 20 February, 2002, 18:48 GMT
Free care for elderly tops poll
NHS performance graphics
More people think that free long-term care of the elderly should be a top priority for the NHS than any other issue, the latest results from a BBC poll for NHS Day show.

Click here for details of how to vote

More than 150,000 people have so far contributed to the poll on Wednesday.

They had been asked to vote on their top priority from a list of 12 options.

This list was reduced to eight and then whittled down to the top five most popular options.

These will be presented to Prime Minister Tony Blair in order of priority during a special programme on BBC One on Wednesday at 2130GMT.

The five most popular areas of concern are:

  • Free long-term care for the elderly
  • More pay for NHS staff
  • Improve A&E
  • Reduce waits for heart and cancer treatment
  • Cleaner hospitals

There is still time for people to vote for their top priority before the list is put to the prime minister.

The three other options which attracted fewer votes, and were dropped during the afternoon were: To see a GP within 48 hours; Drugs regardless of cost and Extra funding for mental health.

And the first four priorities to go in the poll were: Free eye care for all; Reducing waits for other treatments; More cancer screening and More medical research.

All care for the elderly in provided free by the NHS in Scotland, but in England and Wales personal care has to be paid for.

The initial 12 options were based on the results of a poll of more than 1,000 people conducted for the BBC by the polling company ICM.

Unpopular areas

Areas rated as a top priority by the fewest people included abolishing mixed sex wards; increasing access to alternative medicine; refurbishing hospitals; and fixing hospital appointments for the convenience of the patient.

There was also little support for the idea that the NHS should focus on using spare capacity in private hospitals to carry out NHS work. Some 63% of those surveyed said it should not be a priority.

Neither did the public think that health education campaigns should be a top priority.

Two-thirds of people surveyed said that extending the telephone helpline NHS Direct should not be a priority.

Six out of ten disagreed with the idea of prioritising access to NHS fertility treatment, and a massive 89% were opposed to prioritising the availability of cosmetic surgery on the NHS.

ICM carried out face-to-face interviews with 1,124 adults between 22 January and 3 February.

The interviews were conducted in 92 randomly selected parliamentary constituencies.

Secretary of state for health Alan Milburn
"The National Health Service is actually on the road to recovery"
See also:

20 Feb 02 | Health
Why long term care?
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