As the Welsh government issues a rebuff of the Daily Mail’s new campaign to undermine Labour’s credentials on the health service, Left Foot Forward looks at what the public in Wales thinks of the health service.
As the Welsh government issues a rebuff of the Daily Mail’s new campaign to undermine Labour’s credentials on the health service, Left Foot Forward looks at what the public in Wales thinks of the health service
According to polling undertaken by ICM for the BBC and published in June to mark 15 years of devolution in Wales, just 23 per cent of respondents felt that having a National Assembly for Wales had led to an improvement in the NHS.
This compared to 37 per cent who said that devolution had made the health service worse and 34 per cent who believed it had made no difference.
The poll also found confusion over which government was responsible for what, with 43 per cent of those polled believing the UK government had responsibility for health service policy and 48 per cent saying the Welsh government was responsible.
Despite this, however, the BBC’s specific polling on the health service, published last year and carried out again by ICM, found that 72 per cent of people in Wales were confident that the health service would provide them with a high standard of care when they needed it, compared to 27 per cent who weren’t confident.
And 74 per cent said that they were confident that if they were admitted to hospital in Wales they would experience good and timely care, with 24 per cent disagreeing.
Asked how satisfied they were overall with the treatment they had had when using the NHS, 82 per cent of respondents said they were satisfied compared to 15 per cent who said they were not.
But when asked how satisfied they were with the performance of health boards in Wales in managing health services, 46 per cent said satisfied – just 2 per cent ahead of those who were not satisfied with their performance. Almost three quarters (72 per cent) also indicated that they would not know how and where to make a complaint about health services if they needed to.
The Daily Mail campaign comes as health workers in Wales have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action over pay.
Earlier this month, Unison took the decision to ballot its health worker members over the decision by the Welsh government to ignore the recommendation of a 1 per cent pay rise by the Pay Review Body. Instead, a one-off non-consolidated payment of £160 was offered to all staff. This, however, would not count towards pension entitlements or shift pay and would not occur in future years.
Having balloted staff in Wales which includes nurses, occupational therapists, porters, paramedics, medical secretaries, cooks and healthcare assistant, the vote found 77.1 per cent agreeing to strike action, with 22.9 per cent opposed. 90.4 per cent said they would be prepared to take industrial action short of striking, with 9.6 per cent opposed to this.
UNISON regional secretary in Wales Margaret Thomas has said of the vote:
“Our members working in the Welsh NHS have sent a clear message that they are worth more than a miserly £160.
“Health workers have seen their pay drop by as much as 10% since 2010, and yet these same workers subsidise the Government every week by working thousands of hours of unpaid overtime. NHS workers in Wales have spoken loud and clear and it is time for the Welsh Government to come to the table and negotiate a fair pay deal for our members.
“UNISON’s Health Committee will consider the ballot result and their response later this week. We will be having discussions about how any potential action in Wales could be coordinated with future action taken on pay in England.”
Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot ForwardLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.