ITV News Index poll reveals the NHS is now the top concern for voters

Voters are more concerned about the state of the NHS rather than stemming immigration. Credit: Press Association

The National Health Service has overtaken immigration as the top concern for voters, the latest ComRes poll for ITV News has revealed.

The increased concerns comes amid continued pressure on A&E departments, and it is the first time immigration has not been the top concern since the ITV News Index polls started tracking voters' concerns in July 2014.

This month more than a dozen hospitals across England declared "major incidents" after being inundated with patients over the Christmas period.

Read: More than a dozen hospitals declare 'major incident'

Half of people interviewed (50%) said the NHS among their top 3 most important issues - up 11% since last month.

Women were slightly more concerned than men - with 53% putting it as their top priority, compared to 46% of men.

Asked in more detail what they would like to see happen to improve the NHS, 71% of the public think significant organisational reform is needed. Three quarters of respondents said they thought patients expect more from the NHS than they did twenty years ago.

The current Coalition Government is most likely to be thought responsible for the current situation.

Controlling immigration is still a key voting concern, with 46% of people surveying saying it was their top concern - but this figure is down three percent since last month.

2,056 people were asked to rank their top three election issues in order. The following percentages show the top electoral concerns and changes recorded from the last time they were surveyed, in December 2014:

  • Managing the NHS: 50% (+11)

  • Controlling immigration: 46% (-3)

  • Keeping down the cost of everyday living - including managing costs of food, energy and travel: 25% (-3)

  • Promoting economic growth: 20% (no change)

  • Reducing inequality: Making sure the benefits of economic growth are felt by all: 20% (no change)

  • Reducing the budget deficit: 19% (-2)

  • Making the welfare system fairer:19% (no change)

  • Redefining Britain's relationship with the EU: 19% (-2)

  • Improving housing affordability: 14% (+1)

  • Providing adequate care for the elderly: 13% (no change)

  • Reducing crime and anti-social behaviour: 9% (no change)

  • Improving the education system: 7% (-1)

The poll also that although half of Britons (50%) think that the Greens should be included in the leaders debates, as many (50%) think that the Prime Minister is using them as an excuse to avoid taking part.·

The majority (55%) think that David Cameron is acting cowardly in trying to avoid TV debates with the other leaders.