This is according to results of a survey carried out by polling firm ComRes and shared with HSJ. The survey, for the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank, asked more than 1,000 members of the public their priorities for the £20bn NHS funding growth announced by the government in the summer.

Better mental healthcare was the third highest from a list of 16. It was placed higher by young people than old, and was the top priority for those aged 18-24. Cancer and mental health are both expected to be a focus of the long-term plan and near the top of the queue for resources.

However, a number of the results do not accord with the prioritisation attached by government or national NHS leaders.

While staffing was people’s second highest priority, national training and education budgets are threatened with continued cuts, as they are not included in the NHS £20bn.

Digital access to services – a priority of the health and social care secretary Matt Hancock – was the lowest place priority. Better quality community care – another chosen priority of the health secretary – was 12th out of 16. Officials are hoping to prioritise health inequalities in the NHS long-term plan, but this was second from bottom.

The government initiated a review of flagship waiting time standards in the summer, with some hoping for them to be reformed – but quicker emergency department access and to operations were placed fourth and sixth out of 16 priorities, ahead of several care quality priorities.

Harry Quilter-Pinner, the author of the report at IPPR, said: “Patients and the public understandably prioritise more of the same – access to cancer and mental health services.

“This is undoubtedly important. But the truth is we need to fundamentally change how all care is delivered in the NHS. This will require some tough choices some of which won’t be immediately popular with the public. But policitians and policy makers need to be brave in delivering what is right and not just what is easy.”

Source: HSJ