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Improving quality of health care is a key factor in determining support for political candidates, says Deloitte survey

A survey by Deloitte, the business advisory firm, indicates that 61% of UK adults see improving the quality of care provided by doctors and hospitals as highly important in determining their support for political candidates. And 35% believe that understanding which health professionals deliver the best care for their specific condition as paramount to improving the UK’s health care system.

The issue of choosing health professionals is very relevant as almost half of (46%) UK adults believe that quality of care varies a great deal depending on which GP they see. 56% believe that quality of care varies across hospitals.

Deloitte has carried out a comprehensive study into the attitudes, behaviours and needs of health care consumers in six western countries. Comparatively, only 30% of UK consumers viewed their healthcare system as either ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’, in contrast to 55% in Switzerland and France. The figure drops to 21% for the United States and 17% for Germany.

The Deloitte survey reveals mixed feelings amongst the British public about the NHS. They have generally positive views when interacting with the NHS but the overall system falls short of expectations. Only 2% of survey participants rated the overall performance of the UK’s health care system as ‘excellent’ and 28% as ‘very good’, 50% as ‘average’ while 20% rate the system as failing. These findings contrast with the 63% who recently visited a hospital and said that they were satisfied with the care that they received. Overall satisfaction with GPs was extremely high at 93%.

The UK health consumer sees opportunities for improvement in the NHS but is fearful of major policy changes. 60% support increasing private care services if there is no impact on, or change to, the NHS’s system of public funding.

Government reforms
The Deloitte survey also revealed that 31% of UK health consumers feel that recent health care system reform has failed to contribute to a better system, while 55% believe that health care reform has made a moderate contribution.

Consumer choices
When selecting a hospital, nearly half (49%) of consumers chose one because it was close to home, 45% as a result of a physician referral. However, just 40% selected a hospital for its reputation and 41% selected because of specialisation in the care and treatment needed. Only 15% say they compared doctors or medical professionals before choosing one.

Dean Arnold, head of Deloitte’s global health care practice, believes that consumer behaviour will have a significant impact on the future of the NHS: “Currently, people tend to be happy with their local hospital, but not necessarily with the NHS as a whole. It would appear that consumers are able to depersonalise the NHS from the professionals they interact with. But the public will become more challenging and more demanding in the future as the possibility of choice becomes increasingly apparent.

“Individuals should be asking themselves – how good is my surgeon? What are the hospital’s readmission rates? Where can I receive better treatment? Location will no longer be the primary basis upon which to decide where to receive care and treatment, quality and outcomes will become the gold standard.

“A more informed and empowered public will in turn help make the NHS more effective and more efficient.”

- Ends -

Notes to editors

About the survey
As part of Deloitte’s first comprehensive global analysis of healthcare attitudes, behaviours and unmet needs, the UK study was one of many designed to examine current national health care systems. Similar consumerism surveys were conducted in Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland and the United States. The survey was conducted across six discreet zones of consumerism: wellness and healthy living; traditional health services; alternative health services; information resources, health insurance; and health policy.

The Deloitte 2010 UK Survey of Health Care Consumers: www.deloitte.co.uk/UKconsumerhealth2010

The Deloitte 2010 Global Survey of Health Care Consumers: www.deloitte.co.uk/consumerhealth2010

Methodology
The survey findings are based on a national sample of 1,000 British adults, aged 18 and older using a web-based questionnaire consisting of 96 questions and 49 follow-up probes. To enhance the predictive value of survey results to actual utilization data, participants were first asked about recent behaviours (past week/past month/past year) followed by their opinions. Results were weighted to assure proportionate representation by age, gender, income and geography. Response margin of error is +/- 3.1% at a .95 confidence level.

About Deloitte
In this press release references to Deloitte are references to Deloitte LLP, which is among the country's leading professional services firms. Deloitte LLP is the United Kingdom member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu ("DTT"), a Swiss Verein whose member firms are separate and independent legal entities. Neither DTT nor any of its member firms has any liability for each other's acts or omissions. Services are provided by member firms or their subsidiaries and not by DTT. Deloitte LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

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