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Public’s satisfaction with the NHS at lowest level in over a decade

Public satisfaction with the NHS has fallen to its lowest level since 2007, according to analysis of the 2018 British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey.

The survey, carried out by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), finds that, following a sharp drop in 2017, public satisfaction with the health service fell by a further 3 percentage points in 2018.

It now stands at 53%, its lowest level in over a decade and 16 percentage points below its historical peak of 70% in 2010.

The continued fall in satisfaction came despite Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement last June – just before the interviews for the survey were undertaken – of a £20bn long-term funding boost for the health service.

The analysis by The King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust also reveals that public satisfaction with general practice has declined over the past decade.

In 2018, it remained at its lowest level since the survey began in 1983 (63%), while dissatisfaction with general practice remained at its highest level since the survey began. Almost a quarter (24%) of respondents reported being dissatisfied with their GP service – double the level of dissatisfaction in 2009.

The founding principle of the NHS, that it is free at the point of use, remains one of the primary reasons people are satisfied with the NHS (selected by 62% of satisfied respondents).

The survey also reported an increase over the past three years in the proportion of people who cited quality of NHS care as a reason for their satisfaction (71%).

Concerns over waiting times, NHS staff shortages and inadequate funding remained the top three reasons people gave for being dissatisfied with the NHS in 2018.

Ruth Robertson, Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund said: “Despite the outpouring of public affection around the NHS’s 70th birthday and the Prime Minister’s funding boost, public satisfaction with how the NHS is run now stands at its lowest level in over a decade. In the short term at least, the promise of more money doesn’t appear to buy satisfaction.

“The public identified long-standing issues such as staff shortages and waiting times amongst the main reasons for their dissatisfaction and cash alone will not solve these.”

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Satisfaction with hospital services has fluctuated in recent years, but in 2018 an 8 percentage point increase in satisfaction with inpatient services takes it to its highest level since 1993 (63%) and a 5 percentage point increase in satisfaction with outpatient services takes it to the highest level since the survey began (70%).
  • Satisfaction with both inpatient and outpatient hospital services was higher among those who have used those services recently or have friends or family members who have done so than among those who had no contact with inpatient services by either themselves or their friends and family.
  • Overall satisfaction with the NHS was higher among people aged 65 years or older (61%) than among adults under 65 (51%).

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “These findings show the inevitable consequence of starving the NHS of funding for the best part of a decade. We should be under no illusions about the scale of the task we face to restore public confidence in the health service.”

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One Response to “Public’s satisfaction with the NHS at lowest level in over a decade”

  1. winston says:

    Some good aspects in survey.
    However every day the left keep having a go at the NHS due to funding
    In the last year the NHS saved both my mother and sister and eight years ago my mother was told that she would have died.two of my children had babies and I have attended both outpatients and A&E
    They are doing a very good job and should be praised.

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