Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Data Briefing

Does personal politics affect attitudes towards the NHS?

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 28 February 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k888
  1. John Appleby, director of research and chief economist, Nuffield Trust, London, UK
  1. john.appleby{at}

If you are a Conservative voter, does your satisfaction with the NHS automatically drop during Labour administrations, or do lower waiting lists matter more than your political colours? John Appleby reports

There’s no escaping the fact that the NHS and politics are bound up together. And that’s no surprise given the history of its birth, the way we pay for the NHS, and the inevitable role of politicians in shaping policy—and, of course, how much funding it receives.

But what about the converse? Does the political party with which you identify influence your attitude towards the NHS? Do people’s views about the NHS transcend both personal politics and the party in power?

The latest results from the long running British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey (carried out by the National Centre for Social Research, with some questions about the NHS sponsored by the Nuffield Trust and the King’s Fund) provides some of the answers.1

Conducted last year, the BSA survey once again asked the question: “All in all, how satisfied or dissatisfied would you say you are with the way in which the NHS runs nowadays?” It also asks respondents which (if any) political party they most identified with (not voting intention). Figure 1 shows the responses.

Fig 1

Party identification breakdown in the 2017 British Social Attitudes Survey (King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust analysis of survey …

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