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Two years on from the first UK lockdown, patients embrace technology for accessing healthcare

Patient support for the NHS remains strong post-pandemic

There is a growing acceptance of technology for the delivery of healthcare services in the UK, according to new research from technology professional services leader, Gemserv

The new research, conducted by OnePoll and quizzing 2,000 patients across the UK, examined attitudes towards accessing NHS services two years after the first UK enforced lockdown following the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Nearly two thirds (61%) of patients reported they are comfortable with GP appointments over the phone or via video calls, which was one of the marked changes to maintain social distancing as part of the wider restrictions. 

Three in five (60%) patients are satisfied with their local engagement with the NHS (for example, a consultation with their GP) since the outset of the pandemic, alongside 69% of patients who rated the performance of the NHS since the pandemic as good or excellent.

“It is encouraging that the nation’s ‘approval ratings’ of the NHS remain high after such a tough period. However this outlook must be seen in the context of growing waiting lists that will take years to recover, placing additional strain on patient services,” said David Newell, director of health at Gemserv. “It is therefore critical that efforts to recover services are visible, transparent and based on clinical need. They must also be balanced against the wider structural changes needed to address the overall demand for care to create a long term sustainable NHS.”

Frontline workers such as doctor and nurses remain the most trusted NHS workers with half (50%) fully trusting them, compared to less than one in five (17%) fully trusting national healthcare leaders such as the secretary of state for healthcare. A quarter (25%) even reported distrusting national leaders. 

When asked what three things patients would like to see the NHS achieve by the end of this year, the most prevalent answers were reduction in non-urgent surgery waiting times (55%), reduction in A&E waiting times (54%) and more focus on preventing illness and the nation’s overall health (40%). 

There are also marked changes in terms of how patients regard mental health, compared with physical wellness. The majority of patients associate mental health with overall health and wellbeing, with nearly half (47%) reporting mental health is now more important to them than before the pandemic. 

“The pandemic has been the catalyst for the digital transformation of NHS services – and while many are now comfortable with digital healthcare services, we must consider the smaller but significant number who do not support digital first, such as the elderly and most vulnerable,” Newell added. “This is especially important alongside the context that mental health is increasingly important for most patients. This highlights the need for the NHS to take a holistic approach, focused on overall health, against the treatment focus of waiting list recovery.” 

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