NHS staff's wages should be boosted before health chiefs focus on tackling waiting times, according to a survey published tonight.

Some 39% of those quizzed said improving pay and conditions for healthcare workers was among their top three priorities for the sector.

The same percentage put addressing staff shortages in the NHS and social care in their top three.

But cutting waiting times for GP and hospital appointments was less important, with only 33% placing access to timely care among their priorities for improving the system – even though 64% were worried about waiting times affecting their family’s health.

Dedicated NHS staff have been praised in the poll

Campaigners at charity Engage Britain, which commissioned the study, said it showed Britons appreciated the work of health and care staff during the coronavirus pandemic.

Director Julian McCrae said: “The healthcare challenges we have faced this year mean we are more united than ever before around the support for our NHS.

“Despite the portrayal of a divided nation, whichever way we look at our data – whether that’s by age, gender, location or political allegiances – concern for health and care access is ranked number one.

“It is encouraging to find many of us thinking of NHS staff before our own needs; their heroic behaviour throughout this pandemic has galvanised support for suitable pay and working conditions for those involved.”

Pollsters Britain Thinks surveyed 2,448 adults for Engage Britain.