Sunderland people would pay more tax to fund better healthcare, survey reveals

More than two-thirds of Sunderland people would pay more tax if it was easier to get medical appointments.
More than two-thirds of Sunderland people would pay more tax if it was easier to get medical appointments.

You’d be happy to pay more tax if it helped fund better healthcare in Sunderland – but getting an appointment with your GP is still a struggle for many.

Those were key messages from Echo readers when it came to discussing health-related issues as part of our Big City Survey.

People don't have too much trouble getting an appointment at the dentist.

People don't have too much trouble getting an appointment at the dentist.

Nearly 1,000 of you took part in the survey, which covers a range of topics that affect our everyday life.

Today we’re looking at the answers you gave us in relation to health matters, ranging from healthcare at home to booking appointments with doctors, dentists and hospital specialists.

Your answers revealed:

:: 69% of you said you would be prepared to pay an extra 1p in income tax to fund better healthcare services

The time it takes to get an appointment with a GP is of concern to many people.

The time it takes to get an appointment with a GP is of concern to many people.

:: 56% of you would like to see more healthcare at home and in the community rather than in hospitals

:: 47% of you said you had struggled to get an appointment with a GP in the last year

Health bosses in Sunderland said the city, like many other areas, faced “significant challenges” around GP recruitment and increased demands for services, but insisted extra appointment slots had been made available on weekends and evenings, with plans to create more outside of normal working hours next year.

In our survey, we asked people how they thought about six statements.

To the statement: ‘I have struggled to get an appointment with a GP in the last year’ 25.23% of you strongly agreed and 21.85% said you agreed with that. 14.3% strongly disagreed and 22.5% disagreed with the comment.

When it came to dental work, the results were reversed.

To the statement: ‘I have struggled to get an appointment with a dentist in the last year’ 33.68% of you disagreed and 24.2% strongly disagreed. Only 7.15% strongly agreed and a further 7.67% agreed.

To the statement: ‘I have struggled to get an appointment at hospital or with a specialist in the last year’ the results were more even.

20.8% disagreed with that and 12% strongly disagreed. In contrast, 15.7% agreed with the statement and 14.2% strongly agreed.

There was no doubting your stance when it came to the idea of having more home-based healthcare, however.

To the statement: ‘We need more healthcare at home/in the community rather than in hospitals’ 34.9% agreed and 21% strongly agreed. By comparison, only 4.55% strongly disagreed and 8.6% disagreed.

To the statement: ‘More money needs to be directed towards staffing rather than healthcare services’ 28.1% of you agreed and 19.5% strongly agreed, as opposed to 5.6% of respondents who strongly disagreed and 10.1% who disagreed.

The most resounding response came to the statement: ‘I would pay an extra 1p in income tax to fund better healthcare services’.

40.2% strongly agreed with that and a further 28.8% agreed. Only 7.8% of you disagreed and 10.8% strongly disagreed.

Dr Fadi Khalil, clinical vice chairman at NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG), said: “We have recently made extra GP appointments available during evenings and weekends and will be looking to create even more appointments outside normal working hours from next year.

“National surveys have been positive in showing that patients in Sunderland have higher than average satisfaction levels with their GP practices.

“In Sunderland, like the rest of the country, we are facing significant challenges around GP recruitment and increased demand, partly due to an ageing population and ​increased complexity.

“We have introduced a number of schemes and we are strongly committed to attracting newly-qualified GPs to Sunderland and supporting them in their work.

“For example, we launched a Career Start scheme for GPs, practice nurses and healthcare assistants, as well as being part of the NHS clinical pharmacist scheme, this has brought an extra 45 professionals into practices.

“The schemes provide additional support for newly qualified GPs to come to Sunderland, with extra training and support to get established and develop expertise in a specific clinical area.​​

“We also know we have a large number of unattended appointments. We would encourage the public to use their practices wisely and make sure appointments are not going to waste, please notify your practice if you have made an appointment that you can no longer attend to free it up for another patient.​“