A long-running survey shows that NHS public satisfaction levels are at their lowest for over a decade.
According to the British Social Attitudes poll of 2,296 individuals, just over half (53%) of people in England, Scotland and Wales were satisfied with NHS services last year. This represents a three percentage point drop since 2017 and is the lowest satisfaction level reported since 2007.
While a peak of 70% was witnessed back in 2010, experts warn that longer waiting times and a lack of staff were major concerns for the public, attributing to the 11-year low satisfaction rating. Lack of funding and money being wasted were also cited as reasons for being dissatisfied by survey respondents.
Ruth Robertson, from the King’s Fund, which released the findings of the survey with the Nuffield Trust, said the public had identified issues that the government still hadn’t managed to deal with.
[Related reading: NHS England’s Four-Hour A&E Target Likely To Be Scrapped Under New Plans]
She also pointed out that the survey results were interesting as respondents had been polled after the NHS’s 70th anniversary in the summer, a time when the UK government had announced extra funding for the health service. “There was no birthday bounce,” she noted.
Of those surveyed who indicated they were not satisfied with the NHS last year, 30% said they were actively dissatisfied, while the rest said they were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. Less than 1% of survey respondents could not answer.
Even though public satisfaction with the NHS dropped last year, it is still well above the all-time low of 34% seen in 1997.
GP satisfaction levels at an all-time low
When it comes to satisfaction levels with individual NHS services, GPs scored particularly low. In fact, at 63%, satisfaction levels for GPs are at their lowest level since the survey began in 1983.
Nevertheless, satisfaction with GPs was still higher than NHS dentistry and A&E services (58% and 53% respectively).
Speaking about the findings of the survey, Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), said GPs always strive to provide the best possible care, which makes the low satisfaction levels extremely disappointing.
“We know that general practice is currently facing intense resource and workforce pressures and while GPs are working incredibly hard to combat these, we understand that many patients are still waiting too long to see their doctor – something we find just as frustrating,” she said.
Despite the drop in overall NHS satisfaction levels, the survey did reveal some encouraging signs. For example, satisfaction with outpatient services is at an all-time high of 70%, making it the highest-rated service measured and highlighting that when patients did get access to hospital care, they were satisfied with it.
It’s a similar story for inpatient services, which are at their highest satisfaction level (63%) since 1993.
The quality of care received, the fact the NHS is free at the point of use, the behaviour of NHS staff and the range of services and treatments available were all given as reasons why people were satisfied with the health service.
It is sad to hear that NHS satisfaction levels are at an 11-year low. But is it really surprising given that increases in NHS spending have slowed while demand for services continues to rise?
Tom is the Sales Director for Premier Choice Group. In his role, Tom oversee’s growth across all areas of the business while maintaining a small number of his own clients. At Premier Choice, Tom and the team deliver a unique, personal service to every client, while growing the business and maintaining a strong reputation as the UK’s best intermediary.