The government will do “nothing”, or “not much” for the NHS, according to a survey of almost 900 patient organisations, shared exclusively with HSJ.
The survey of local and national patient organisations was carried out by the research organisation Patient View. Among the survey questions, it asked what patient groups and charities thought the coalition government will “actually do” for the NHS.
The largest number of responses, from 120, could be summarised as “very little”. A further 96 said their members expected the government to cut funding and focus harshly on the NHS budget.
Patient View managing director Alexandra Wyke said despite the government’s “big society” agenda and promises to shift power to the grassroots, few of its members had been actively involved in developing policy.
Only a quarter of the organisations in the survey said they believed the Conservative Party had wanted to hear their views when it was in opposition.
Additionally Dr Wyke said as far as she was aware none of the organisations were formally approached by the government for consultation before it published the white paper in July.
Future problems anticipated by patient bodies included: damage by cutbacks; cuts in financial support for people with disabilities; a decline in standards in the NHS; and a lack of government consultation with community health organisations.
The organisations surveyed said they wanted to see more rational investment; a greater patient voice in policy making; less red tape; and quicker and fairer access to treatment.
Dr Wyke said there was concern at national level that taking away targets would reduce the opportunity to compare performance in different areas.
She said: “Fears at a local level echoed that, because without that kind of data local patient groups have no leverage.”
More than a fifth of the patient organisations responding to the survey said they provided core services to the NHS, including paying for doctors, nurses and buildings.
The majority said they provided health information to patients, 54 per cent said they trained healthcare staff, and 24 per cent said they funded or conducted medical research.