Fixing NHS crisis is Britain’s immediate top priority for Sir Keir Starmer if he becomes PM - new poll

Fixing the crisis-hit NHS is Britain’s immediate top priority for Sir Keir Starmer if he becomes Prime Minister, a new poll reveals.

The Ipsos survey for The Standard found 63 per cent of adults naming improving the health service as one of the three or four issues a Labour government, if elected, should focus on in the first six months.

This is far ahead of dealing with the cost of living, in second place and cited by 44 per cent.

The findings were published the day after the damning report into the Infected Blood scandal and with NHS waiting lists still at around 7.5 million.

The poll showed around a third of adults stating growing the economy (32 per cent) as an immediate priority, improving education and skills (31 per cent), and managing asylum and immigration (30 per cent).

Twenty-two per cent named dealing with climate change/investing in green energy, the same level as dealing with crime on 21 per cent, a key issue of concern for voters.

With Putin’s Ukaine war and the threat from China, 19 per cent said defence and national security.

Building more homes scored 17 per cent, as did controlling public spending to cut taxes, tackling inequality in Britain was on 15 per cent, giving workers stronger right and protections 12 per cent, transport nine per cent, as was international affairs and foreign relations.

Asked what should be a Labour government’s longer-term priorities, joint top was improving education and skills, and dealing with crime, both on 29 per cent, followed by addressing cost of living on 27 per cent, growing the economy 25 per cent, and building more homes 23 per cent.

One in five adults mentioned dealing with climate change/investing in green energy (21 per cent), controlling public spending to reduce taxes (21 per cent) and tackling inequality in Britain (20 per cent).

The country is split on whether Labour is ready to form the next government, with 39 per cent believing it is, and 37 per cent disagreeing.

Thirty-three per cent say Sir Keir is ready to be Prime Minister, his lowest figure sincec April 2022, with 40 per cent thinking he is not.

Thirty-two per cent are satisfied with how he is doing as Labour leader, up seven points, with 50 per cent dissatisfied, down six points, giving a net score of -18, compared to -31 in April.

Only 17 per cent (up one point) are satisfied with the way Rishi Sunak is performing as PM, with 72 per cent dissatisfied (down three points), with his net rating of -55 narrowly above his record low of -59 last month.

Just one in seven adults (14 per cent) want a Conservative majority government after the next general election, expected in the autumn.

Thirty-seven per cent want a Labour majority government, 19 per cent a hung Parliament with Labour the biggest party, and 11 per cent a hung Parliament with the Tories with the most MPs.

Six in ten Britons (59 per cent) say another Conservative majority government would be bad for the country, the same figure for a hung parliament with the Tories the biggest party, with just 17 per cent viewing either of these outcomes as good.

The nation is more split over the prospect of a majority Labour government, with 42 per cent saying it would be good and 32 per cent bad.

A hung Parliament with Labour having the most MPs is viewed positively by 34 per cent, and negatively by 37 per cent.

Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos, said: “Keir Starmer launched his six first steps last week of what a Labour government would do if elected, and while they do broadly match public priorities there is no doubt what is at the top of voters’ list – improving the NHS.

“Reflecting high levels of public dissatisfaction with the way the Conservatives are running the health service, this is an area of strength for Labour – but also means that expectations are high.

“If Labour is elected, Starmer will need to balance demands to show some quick improvements in the NHS while also building up a plan to deal with the long-term challenges.

“More broadly, the public shares rising expectations that Labour will be the likely winners at the next election, and although they aren’t united in their enthusiasm for it they are much more positive about that than the prospect of another Conservative term in office.”

Forty-five per cent expect a Labour majority government, up 18 points from last September and much higher than ahead of the 2010, 2015, and 2019 elections.

Twenty-nine per cent believe there will be a hung Parliament with Labour the biggest party, six per cent a Conservative majority government and eight per cent a hung Parliament with the Tories the largest party.

Even among Conservative supporters a majority expect Labour to be the biggest party (29 per cent say in a hung Parliament, 26 per cent with a majority).

* Ipsos interviewed 1,008 adults in Britain by phone between May 8 and 14. Data are weighted. Full details can be found at ipsos.com/en-uk