Two thirds of the public think lives could have been saved if the government had taken different policy decisions

Press release on behalf of Keep Our NHS Public and We Own It for IMMEDIATE use, 5 MARCH 2021

Two thirds (66%) of the public believe that lives could have been saved if the government had taken different policy decisions, a new poll has found. According to the Survation poll [1] – commissioned by campaigning groups Keep Our NHS Public [2] and We Own It [3] – 66 per cent of the public think that some of the more than 100,000 lives lost could have been saved, compared to only 18% of those who disagreed. A total of 16% said they didn’t know. [4]

The UK has now suffered the highest death rate from COVID-19 in the world [5] and Keep Our NHS Public believe that this statistic and the actions that have led to it, must be urgently addressed. To that end they have recently launched a People’s Covid Inquiry [6] to examine what lessons may be learned as a result of these mortality figures, with the first session heard last week, and the next session to take place on Wednesday 10th of March.

Chaired by renowned human rights barrister Michael Mansfield QC, a host of leading academics, celebrities, campaigning groups and unions, together with frontline workers and members of the public, will give evidence at hearings from now until June in an attempt to learn lessons from the events surrounding this pandemic. Findings will then be presented to the government.

In response to these polling results, Dr John Puntis, Co-Chair of Keep Our NHS Public said:

“123,000 deaths from COVID-19 is the tragic legacy this government will leave behind. So many of these lives could have been saved had the government acted differently, and made better decisions; locking down earlier and favouring the public sector over private involvement. The results of this survey highlight the devastating truth, that the majority of the British public blame government policy choices for increasing the number of victims from this dreadful disease. This is why our People’s Covid Inquiry is now so vitally needed, to learn the lessons from the numerous mistakes made, hold the government to account, and save lives as a result.”

Speaking on the poll’s findings, Pascale Robinson, campaigns officer at We Own It said:

“This poll is a clear reflection of the public’s assessment of the government’s reckless approach to the pandemic. From start to finish, the government has put the interests of private profit above public health – and the public understand this. The root of this is the insidious ideology of privatisation. The government put key parts of the pandemic response in the hands of private companies like Serco that were totally unequipped to deliver. That’s put countless lives needlessly at risk and contributed to our tragic death toll. It’s not too late for the government to change tack. The successful roll out of the vaccination programme has been delivered thanks to the brilliant work of our fantastic NHS and primary care services. The government should replicate that in the other aspects of the pandemic response by kicking the private companies out for good.”


Spokespeople are available for broadcast interview. For more information and further comment – contact Press Officer for Keep Our NHS Public, Samantha Wathen [email protected] or call/WhatsApp 0777 6047472

Notes for editors:

[1] Survation is an MRS Company Partner and member of the British Polling Council. Survation polled 1,002 people aged 18+ living in the UK. Fieldwork was conducted via an online panel on 23-25th February 2021. Data were weighted to the profile of all adults in the UK aged 18+ according to ONS data. Data were weighted by age, sex, region, household income, education, 2019 General Election Vote, and 2016 EU Referendum Vote.

[2] Keep Our NHS Public is a national organisation campaigning for a well-funded and fully public NHS

[3] We Own It is the campaign for public ownership of public services. More information can be found here:

[4] Details of the question asked by Survation and the response are as follows:

Over 100,000 people in the UK have died as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Do you think some of these lives could have been saved if the government had taken different policy decisions?

a.                   Yes – 66%

b.                  No – 18%

c.                   Don’t know – 16%