Satisfaction with NHS falls to lowest level ever, survey shows

Public satisfaction with the NHS has fallen to its lowest level, according to a major new survey.

And service dissatisfaction has doubled in the last two years, as people struggle to access services and believe there are not enough staff to provide high-quality care.

While the public is unabashedly proud of the service and what it stands for, just over a quarter (29%) said they were satisfied with how the service works, according to the 2022 British Social Attitudes survey.

NHS survey chart
(PA charts)

This is the lowest level since the survey began in 1983 and a major drop from 2010 when 70% said they were satisfied with the NHS.

Survey data of 3,362 people from England, Wales and Scotland, analyzed by think tanks Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund, also shows that overall dissatisfaction with the way the NHS is run rose to 51%, the level highest since the survey began. .

This figure has doubled in just two years, with dissatisfaction with the NHS recorded at 25% in 2020

The main reasons for dissatisfaction were about funding, staff and access to care: around 69% said it takes too long to get an appointment with the GP or hospital, 55% said there are not enough hospital staff NHS and 50% said the government is not spending enough money on the NHS, according to the survey, which was conducted by the National Center for Social Research in September and October 2022.

The results of the welfare survey have already been published, but they also paint a worrying picture, with only 14% satisfied and 57% dissatisfied with the way the welfare service is run.

Meanwhile, a smaller survey of 1,187 people found that satisfaction with different NHS services is at record lows.

(PA charts)
(PA charts)

Dissatisfaction with A&E services rose to 40%, the highest level since the question was first asked in 1989.

Meanwhile, around 42% said they were dissatisfied with NHS dentistry.

And just over a third (35%) said they were satisfied with their GP’s services, the lowest level on record.

But the authors said that public commitment to NHS principles has not dimmed and most people agree that the service should be free at the point of use; available to all; and that it should be financed mainly through taxes.

Jessica Morris, author of the report and a member of the Nuffield Trust, said: “The fact that we have now recorded the lowest level of satisfaction with the NHS in the 40-year history of this gold standard survey is a warning siren.

“The Prime Minister has made the recovery of the NHS one of his central promises ahead of the next general election, but these results show what a huge task that will be.

“It is clear that the level of discontent among the British public with the way the NHS is run will take many years to recover.”

Dan Wellings, report author and Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund, added: “Even with satisfaction falling to an all time low, support for the NHS’s core principles remains strong.

“The public doesn’t want a different model of healthcare, they just want the current model to work.”

He added: “Satisfaction comes and goes, but faith in the institution is absolutely solid.

“It is still what makes us most proud to be British, but these results are very clear: it is not working for a large number of people at the moment.

“I think behind the numbers, there are people who are really fighting to get care, support and access for themselves or their family members.”

He said the results should ring “loud and continuing alarm bells in the corridors of power”, adding: “This is the worst I’ve ever seen in an NHS poll.”

Commenting, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “These sad but significant findings show the public’s frustration with the status quo around health and social care and should serve as a red flag for the Government.” .

An NHS spokesman said: “While this survey reflects public perceptions of significant pressure on our services, it is clear that the vast majority still hold the NHS’s core principles very strongly, which is welcome as we approach to the 75th anniversary of the NHS.

“More importantly, even with more people accessing our services than ever before, it also shows great satisfaction with the range of services and quality of care patients receive, which is a testament to our dedicated and hard-working staff. who works in all corners of the NHS.

“However, there is no doubt that the NHS has been under sustained pressure in recent months, which has affected patient experiences – at the time this survey was conducted, staff had just treated more people with Covid-19 in the hospital during the summer. Compared with the last two combined, GPs were providing millions more appointments each month compared to before the pandemic, and it was the busiest October on record for the most serious ER and ambulance calls.

“The NHS is taking significant steps to further improve the patient experience, including our recently launched plan to bring back emergency and urgent care as well as continuing to reduce the long waits for elective treatment that have inevitably built up during the pandemic, and we are working on new plans to boost primary care for patients and publishing a long-term workforce strategy shortly.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Reducing waiting lists is one of the Prime Minister’s five priorities and so far we have virtually eliminated waiting of more than two years for treatment and the latest figures show that the number of patients waiting longer than 18 months has decreased.” reduced by 80 percent from the peak.

“We have delivered 3.3 million tests, scans and checks to detect cancer and other conditions as soon as possible through our 94 community diagnostic centers and more will be rolled out this year.

“At the same time, we are investing up to £14.1bn in health and social care over the next two years to support the workforce and ensure patients receive the highest quality care.”


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