A ban on hospital consultants working both in the NHS and in the private sector is supported by two in five people in Northern Ireland, according to a new survey.
Public opinions on the spiraling wait lists and potential solutions to deal with the crisis are detailed in the “snapshot” study of 1,000 adults.
The publication comes three weeks after Health Minister Robin Swann laid out a £ 700million ‘roadmap’ to reduce wait times by 2026.
There are currently more than 335,000 people on waiting lists in northern hospitals amid growing concerns about the emergence of a two-tier system.
Market research firm Cognisense conducted its survey last month and also found that a third of those polled considered it ‘okay’ to pay the private sector to clear the NHS backlog – while a third said it was unacceptable.
Women, Protestants and those without private health insurance are “on the whole more favorable to
such an agreement to outsource “to private clinics for work on the waiting list, according to the study.
Views were also solicited on the downgrading of local hospitals with centralized care to ‘centers of excellence’ – a key recommendation from several reports on health service reform in the north – with 54% supporting it. idea.
However, 42% of those polled rejected small hospitals that lose their acute services, with those under 25 and those in lower socio-economic groups being the most opposed.
Opinions on banning consultants from working in both the NHS and the private sector “varied considerably with age”, with those under 35 opposed but older people – especially retirees – strongly in favor. favor of this decision.
Some patients wait up to seven years to see an NHS hospital consultant – but can access the same doctor or consulting colleague privately within weeks if they pay up to £ 200 for an initial assessment.
“Two in five adults would support a ban on consultants working both in the NHS and in the private sector … Those with private health insurance are fairly balanced, while those dependent on the NHS are generally more in favor “the study said.
Meanwhile, nearly one in two was opposed to the elimination of free prescriptions and the diversion of money to waiting lists.
“As might be expected, sentiment against such a measure is increasing among lower socioeconomic groups. Those under 25 are strongly opposed to sacrificing free prescriptions,” the researchers found.
Addressing his colleagues in the Assembly after unveiling his department’s ‘road map’ plan, Mr Swann said: “The time for discussions is over. What we need now is ‘concerted action’.
He said the crisis was exacerbated by the pandemic but developed for seven years.
The study concludes: “Although the general public is 4 times more likely to accept rather than reject the creation of centers of excellence as a means of reducing
waiting lists, they are twice as likely to be reluctant to consider closing some local hospitals as a result.
“Embezzling the budget of the departments while confining education is an acceptable option for half of the population, but only half of them would accept the embezzlement of the budget of all departments, including education. “