First Results From the New Welsh Political Barometer Poll: the NHS

The first results to be published from the new Welsh Political Barometer poll concern attitudes towards the NHS in Wales. YouGov asked respondents to the Barometer poll two interesting questions about the health service, a topic that will surely be one of the most important issues – indeed, possibly the most important – in next year’s National Assembly for Wales election.

The first question asked respondents the following:

“To what extent, if at all, do you trust the NHS in Wales to provide a high quality service?”

The overall profile of answers given is re-produced below, alongside those given by adults in England to an almost identical question (which asked about the NHS in England) in a parallel YouGov poll run at pretty much the same time last week.

Response Wales England
Trust a great deal 12 17
Trust a fair amount 49 57
Do not trust very much 27 17
Do not trust at all 9 4
Don’t Know 3 6


The positive news here is that the majority of people in Wales trust the NHS to provide a high quality service at least ‘a fair amount’. The less positive news is that ratings here are notably, if not massively, lower than in the parallel poll in England. Fewer people in Wales have positive levels of trust in the NHS, and greater numbers express distrust.

A rather similar pattern is evident in a second question that was included in the Barometer poll: this one asked about future expectations of the NHS:

“Do you think the standard of care in the NHS in Wales will get better or worse over the next few years, or will it stay much the same?”

Again, thanks to our friends in YouGov, we are able to compare Welsh responses to this question with a near-identical question included in a parallel study run in England:

Response Wales England
Get better 12 13
Get worse 47 37
Stay much the same 32 41
Don’t Know 10 8


Just as in ratings of trust in the NHS at present, when we ask people about the future we see (very slightly) less optimism in Wales than England, and greater levels of pessimism. In both nations people are much more likely to think that things will get worse than get better in the NHS over the next few years. But whereas in England pessimists outnumber optimists by just under three-to-one, in Wales the ratio is very nearly four-to-one.

These findings do tend to suggest that public evaluations of the performance of the NHS in Wales are not particularly strong, and also that people are not very optimistic about its future.

One reasonable counter to the findings presented here might be that “it’s just one poll”. Except that it isn’t just one poll. In a much more detailed evaluation of public attitudes to the NHS published in January of this year, Lord Ashcroft found that there were consistent national differences in public evaluations of the NHS, measured in a number of different ways. Public evaluations were consistently the most positive in Scotland, less so in England, and the most negative in Wales.

In short, our findings here do not seem to be some freak outlier, but symptomatic of a consistent pattern in public attitudes. The broader political implications of this are something that I suspect we will return to on the Blog over the next few months.

I’ll be back later tonight with the voting intention figures from the Barometer poll. There will be other findings rolled out over the next few days.


  • Harry Hayfield

    My word, that’s not going to please Mr. Drakeford is it? 36% of Welsh voters do not trust the NHS in Wales (compared to 21% in England) and 47% believe it will get worse. If my memory serves the NHS ended up as the issue of the Westminster election and what happened in Wales? Two Conservative gains from Labour in Vale of Clwyd and Gower on swings of about 3.5% to Conservative. If I was Sandy Mewies (Delyn) and Ken Skates (Clwyd South) I would be very worried indeed by that.

    • Roger Scully

      It would certainly appear to be a point of potential vulnerability for Labour, and one they will need to counter effectively, Harry.

  • marc jones

    Are there regional breakdowns for this – would be interesting to see whether North Wales had a more critical response.

    • Roger Scully

      I’ll post them all once we’ve released all the results. But short answer to your question is no, not to any obvious extent.

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