1. ITV Report

51% oppose doctors' strike over pensions

NHS leaders fear that growing financial pressures will damage patients' quality of care. Photo: Reuters

More than half of people surveyed in an exclusive poll for ITV News oppose the doctors' strike over pensions that will take place on Thursday.

In the ITV News Index survey carried out by ComRes showed that 51% were against the industrial action, while 32% supported it.

17% of the 2,059 people questioned did not express an opinion.

Science and Medical Editor Lawrence McGinty has the full report:

The health service "looks like a supertanker heading for an iceberg", the head of the NHS Confederation warned, after another survey reveals that almost half of its leaders think cost cutting will reduce quality of care for patients over the next year.

Research, carried out before the confederation's annual conference in Manchester, shows that NHS leaders fear that growing financial pressures will damage patients' quality of care.

Of the 252 chief executives and chairs of NHS organisations questioned, almost half believe the financial burden on the health service is "very serious" and 47% say this means quality of care will reduce over the next 12 months.

Despite huge efforts to maintain standards of patient care in the current financial year, healthcare leaders are deeply concerned about the storm clouds that are gathering around the NHS.

Our survey shows that many NHS leaders see finances getting worse and that this is already having a growing impact on their patients. In response, they are cutting costs in the short term but they know that much more radical solutions are the only answer in the long run.

Frankly, without action on the way we provide health and social care, the NHS looks like a supertanker heading for an iceberg. The danger is clearly in view and looming ever-larger. We know what needs to happen. But are we going to be able to take the assertive action needed in time?

– Mike Farrar, chief executive of the confederation which represents organisations providing NHS services

The warning comes as staff employed by the British Medical Association prepare to go on strike today in a row over pay, a day before doctors represented by the group take industrial action in a separate dispute over pensions.

Hundreds of members of the GMB who work for the BMA will walk out for 24 hours after rejecting a pay offer of 1.5%, with an extra 0.5% for high performers.

It will be the first strike by BMA staff in the 180 years the organisation has been in existence, said the GMB, whose members include regional officers, researchers, librarians, administrative staff and industrial relations officers.

We know that the NHS is performing extremely well for patients, with waiting times and hospital-acquired infections low and patient experience of care high.

But there are financial pressures; as nearly half of the respondents to the NHS Confederation's survey made clear, they are very serious but not the most they have experienced.

Recognising this, we have committed to investing an extra £12.5 billion in the NHS and led a programme of quality-led savings for reinvestment in services, which is on track.

The NHS needs to change to match the needs of a changing population. We will not shy away from difficult decisions involved in that. But any local plans must be led by the need to use resources more effectively to support and improve services and the quality of NHS care.

The Confederation survey shows leadership to deliver integrated, innovative services is the priority, which is exactly where our reforms are taking us.

– Health Secretary Andrew Lansley