Two thirds (66%) say they support nurses taking industrial action, including two fifths (39%) that strongly support the strikes, according to a new poll from Savanta.
Although a third (31%) say they have been affected by nurses taking industrial action, support remains relatively high. Since October, net support, which calculates those that support minus those who oppose, has only dropped by 2pts (+45 Feb vs +43 Oct).
Nurses are seen as some of the most essential workers in the UK, as nine in ten (92%) saying that they are essential to everyday life. The medical field as a whole is seen as more essential than other sectors, with nine in ten saying both ambulance drivers (92%) and doctors (91%) are essential, slightly more than those that say teachers (88%) and bus drivers (84%) are essential to everyday life.
Despite the majority stating the importance of nurses in everyday life, six in ten (62%) say they are underappreciated. Two thirds (66%) say nurses are underpaid, while a fifth (18%) say they are paid about the right amount and one in ten (12%) say they are overpaid.
While a majority say nurses are underpaid, half (47%) believe industrial action by nurses will end in a better pay deal, but a third (34%) say it will not.
And despite the public not being sure how the nurse strikes will end, over half (56%) blame the government for nurses taking industrial action. A quarter (24%) blame the trade unions representing the nurses, while only one in ten (12%) blame the nurses themselves for the strikes.
Chris Hopkins, Political Research Director at Savanta said, “As the second day of industrial action by nurses begins, walkouts by public sector staff do not seem to be going away, presenting a continual problem for the government. When it comes to nurses in particular, our polling implies that net support for nurses is increasing, while the public continue to believe the government is most to blame.”
“Sunak would have hoped that, by now, support would begin to wane, but the perception that the government have no real handle on the issue, with no likely end in sight, has ended up damaging the government more than they would have thought, and while nurses and healthcare staff more generally are seen to be so essential to every day life, the government will continue to be seen as the cause of the problems.”