The household and pharmaceutical giant behind some of the biggest brands in your medicine and cleaning cupboards is revealing the truth about what we think about the NHS, our health and what the future holds in a post-coronavirus world.

Thornton & Ross, part of global healthcare leader STADA Arzneimittel AG, is one of the largest over the counter pharmaceutical manufacturers in the UK and the firm behind big brands like Covonia®, Cetraben®, Hedrin®, Savlon® and Zoflora®.

They have carried out their 2020 Health Report – a detailed study of what we think about all aspects of our health, from sex to vaccines, doctors to digital. In total, 2,010 people across the UK aged between 18 and 99 were questioned as part of 24,087 respondents across 12 European countries. The research was initially done before the coronavirus crisis hit in full, but a further study has now been carried out to ensure the impact of Covid-19 is taken into account.

The research found:

  • We know sex can improve our health – but not by how much, and we still don’t like talking about it. 84 per cent know it will make us sleep better, but only a quarter know it can help prevent heart disease. Over half of us never discuss sex with our partners or friends – conforming to the stereotype that we are the most reserved in Europe where two-thirds talk about it regularly. We’re also more put off sex by our partners having a cold than any other nation – four in five of us say we’d be turned off by sniffles and sneezes.
  • We’ve been more worried about others than ourselves in the coronavirus crisis. Over half said their biggest concern was someone they loved dying from contracting the virus, many more than the third who were most worried about themselves suffering the same fate.
  • The pandemic has made us more accepting of digital healthcare. A quarter of us are now more likely to imagine consulting a doctor online now compared to before the spread of coronavirus, the biggest change has come among those over 50 who are traditionally more reluctant to engage virtually. Seeing our GP by webcam is now something two-thirds of us would consider. One in six of us now use online sources to find health advice, but a fifth refuse to change their view saying that digital consultations would ‘feel weird’.
  • Vaccinations should be compulsory and we think they work. With the ongoing and urgent research into a Covid-19 vaccine, and the debate about whether we should be compelled to have one, our research shows 85 per cent of us think that where protection from a disease or virus can be delivered by having a vaccine, we should be told to have it. 98 per cent of us are convinced vaccinations work to help us.
  • And, perhaps unsurprisingly, we love the NHS – and our appreciation of the work of our doctors, nurses and care workers has increased since the coronavirus crisis. Three-quarters say we’re positive about the healthcare available in the UK, with just seven per cent expressing a negative opinion, down from 15 per cent before the pandemic. Our regard for the country’s health service is the highest in Europe at 67 per cent, closely followed by Spain and both are considerably higher than the 46 per cent global average.
  • There is a real divide among the UK about what the impact for the rest of the year will be. Some feel there will be a swift return to normality (15%) and more than a quarter believe positive consequences such as looking out for one another will be a lasting legacy – but a third fear a deep financial crisis whose impact can’t be estimated, and a quarter find what happens next difficult to even comprehend.

The research was carried out by market research institute Kantar Health during February and March this year. A further 6,269 throughout Europe, including 1,042 UK adults, were questioned about the coronavirus outbreak in late April.

The 12 countries included in the research were the UK, Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Spain and Switzerland.

Roger Scarlett-Smith, Executive Vice President of Thornton & Ross, said: “It comes as no huge surprise that this study shows the very deep gratitude that the people of the UK have for the NHS, particularly in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Surprisingly though, the UK generally is less pessimistic about the future than most of Europe, despite us having one of the highest number of deaths. Just 31 per cent of us are ‘relatively pessimistic’, compared to 40 per cent in Germany, Spain and Italy.

“The big news, however, is the shift in attitude towards online consultations despite reservations about data security – this is very much in line with the trends we are seeing in e-commerce and consumers taking more responsibility for self-care.

“The insight this report provides will play an essential role in enabling us to understand people’s concerns and wishes, ensuring we continue to be at the forefront across the healthcare spectrum, from consumer healthcare products to cancer medicine.”