Almost half of people believe Boris Johnson is hiding the truth when it comes to protecting the NHS in a trade deal with the US, a poll has revealed.
Only a third said they did think the Conservative Party leader was telling the truth, while 25% said they did not know.
Pollsters Survation found that 45% did not believe the Prime Minister was being honest when he assured the public that the NHS was “not on the table” when UK and US negotiators sit down to thrash out a post-Brexit trade deal.
Over 70% of Brits quizzed said the NHS should be safeguarded during trade talks.
British public ‘firmly against’ NHS sell-off
Ellen Lees, campaigns officer for We Own It – the pro-nationalisation group that commissioned the research, said it showed the public were “firmly against” any health service sell-off.
Speaking with Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to Downing Street last month, Boris Johnson said: “Of course, we will do everything to increase free trade but the National Health Service is not on the table as far as our negotiations go.”
But when 2,000 people were asked what statement was “closest to your view”, just under half said they agreed that “Boris Johnson is not telling the truth” regarding the pledge.
Asked how concerned they were about the impact a future trade deal with America could have on the publicly-run health service, 35% said “very concerned”.
Only 14% of people said they were “not at all concerned” and 16% said the option of carving up parts of the NHS and allowing foreign control should be an option in any trade deals completed when Britain leaves the European Union.
Almost three-quarters of those surveyed disagreed.
The survey, carried out online between October 9-14, found only 18% of people trusted the Tories to ensure it remained a “publicly funded and publicly run” institution.
Labour more trusted to protect free health service
Labour received the backing of a third of respondents – narrowly in front of 24% of people who said they did not trust any party to protect the free-at-entry provision.
Ms Lees said: “This poll shows clearly that the public understand just how big of a threat a US trade deal is to our NHS.
“And it shows that they’re firmly against the idea that our NHS could be sold off bit by bit to Donald Trump and American private healthcare giants.”
Tony O’Sullivan, co-chair of Keep Our NHS Public, said: “The NHS has faced six years of destructive top-down disorganisation.
“Legislation to return the NHS wholly to the care and responsibility of public service and ending privatisation is the only cast-iron defence against a Johnson-Trump deal.
“Only this will guarantee for our children the future of the NHS as a public service for all.”
In August, Johnson announced £850 million to fund infrastructure upgrades at 20 hospitals in England and freed up another £1 billion of money saved by NHS trusts for further investment.
Misleading voters over NHS funding
However Boris Johnson’s £1.8 billion cash injection for the NHS has been widely criticised as “a drop in the ocean”.
The Prime Minister and Conservative Party advertising have made much of the one-off payment for repairing 20 hospitals.
But NHS experts have said the sum, while desperately needed, was just a fraction of what is required to fix ailing NHS buildings across the country. He was accused of misleading voters as funds were being released that had been previously blocked bytes government.
The British Medical Association, Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Midwives, Unison, and other NHS staff groups have also called on Johnson to take a no-deal Brexit off the table because of the havoc it would cause exacerbating current NHS shortages.
And Cancer Research UK last month warned: “The Government’s inaction on staff shortages is crippling the NHS, failing cancer patients and the doctors and nurses who are working tirelessly to diagnose and treat them.”
Over 100,000 cancer sufferers missed out on early diagnosis in just one year, largely due to staffing pressures. The figure, from Public Health England, could be larger as for 19% of patients there is no record of what stage their cancer was diagnosed.
The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) annual state of care report found that emergency care standards have worsened over the last year, with A&E departments the most likely part of a hospital to be ranked inadequate.
Dr Nick Scriven, from the Society for Acute Medicine, warned at some point the NHS would “reach a vital tipping point and care will be compromised despite all the heroic efforts by the human side of this, the staff in post.”
The CQC also warned of a “perfect storm” across health and social care where people cannot access care, or where the care comes too late to meet their needs.
Inspectors said A&E departments had not had their usual “breathing space” over the summer to prepare for the coming winter months, which can see high numbers of patients suffering flu and existing illnesses made worse.
The data shows that, in 2018/19, 44% of urgent and emergency services were ranked as requiring improvement while a further 8% were inadequate. – This is up on the 41% requiring improvement and the 7% ranked as inadequate the year before.