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Public uncertainty around recent changes to the NHS

3rd July 2013

In one of the first surveys of its kind, the not-for-profit healthcare provider benenden health has gauged opinion around the changes to the NHS brought about by the introduction of the Health and Social Care Act1 which have resulted in major changes to the way in which the NHS operates. 

It reveals the extent of the public’s lack of confidence in the changes – with only 53% being aware of the Act and 15% of that number expressing a lack of confidence in the Government being able to reach its saving target.

The benenden health survey has looked at the general public’s awareness of these changes and how they believe it will affect their day-to-day interaction with the NHS.

Among the results almost half of those questioned believed that GPs will spend less time with their patients and that the doctor/ patient relationship will change.

Commenting on the results Marc Bell, Chief Executive of benenden health said, “Our survey reveals that the general public has mixed feelings about the changes brought about by the Health and Social Care Act.  On the one hand they are happy that funding decisions will be made by doctors as they believe they better understand their community’s needs.  However, there is also concern that this will change the relationship between doctors and their patients. 

More worryingly for the Government is the lack of awareness of the reforms and also the apparent lack of faith in either the need for, or ability to deliver the cost savings that are required.

At benenden health, we are great supporters of the NHS and see a role for the mutual not-for-profit sector in working alongside the reforms to offer ways to relieve pressure and burden of cost on this national institution.  Our research shows that the conversation about modernisation of the NHS needs to continue so the public better understands the changes and challenges that lie ahead.”

Results of the survey

The good

  • Half (51%) of those surveyed believe that local competition bought about by the new Act will increase GP accountability for services
  • The Public also believe that Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) will save the NHS money (23%) and increase levels of localised care (26%)

The bad

  • 46% believe that the changes will mean that GPs will be able to spend less time with their patients and that the doctor/ patient relationship will change (45%)
  • Over a third are concerned that the changes will worsen the postcode lottery of health care

The ugly

  • More broadly, of the 53% who are aware of the Act,  only 15% expect the Government to reach its target of £20bn savings and only 27% think that these savings are necessary


1    Health and Social Care Act   Changes brought about by the Act include:

  • Giving groups of GP practices and other professionals – clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) ‘real’ budgets to buy care on behalf of their local communities
  • shifting many of the responsibilities historically located in the Department of Health to a new, politically independent NHS Commissioning Board (this has now been renamed NHS England);
  • the creation of a health specific economic regulator (Monitor) with a mandate to guard against 'anti-competitive' practices
  • Moving all NHS trusts to foundation trust status.

For a more in-depth overview of the Act visit the Kings Fund website.

Survey details

  • The Benenden Health survey was undertaken by research company MMR over a three day period during the week beginning 12 June via an online poll
  • 311 people were surveyed.  This sample is representative of the national make up and has a 95% level of confidence that it is reflective of the UK population’s views.
  • A full breakdown of the statistics is available. Please email for more information.