Public less satisfied with the NHS

28 Feb 18

Public satisfaction with the NHS dropped between 2016 and 2017, according to analysis of social attitudes by the Nuffield Trust and King’s Fund.

The health think-tanks examined data from the British Social Attitudes Survey, which questioned 3,004 adults in Great Britain last year.

This found that public satisfaction with the NHS fell by six percentage points to 57% between 2016 and 2017, while the proportion of those voicing dissatisfaction increased by seven percentage points to 29%, the highest level since 2007.

Older people were more satisfied with the NHS than younger ones, with 64% of those aged over 65 saying they satisfied, against only 55% of those aged 18 to 64.

The four main reasons given for satisfaction were: care quality; services free at the point of use; staff conduct; and the range of services and treatments available.

Principal causes of dissatisfaction were: staff shortages; waiting times; lack of funding; and government reforms.

Satisfaction with social care services was the lowest among any category highlighted by the think-tanks at only 23%. However, this had not changed significantly from 2016. Dissatisfaction with social care increased by six percentage points to 41%.

By contrast, satisfaction with GPs and outpatient services stood at 65%, and dentistry at 57%.

Satisfaction with GPs had dropped by seven percentage points from the previous year and was the lowest since the survey began in 1983.

The think-tanks said that, despite these falls, satisfaction levels remained higher than they were in the 1990s and early 2000s.

They concluded: “With an increase over the last few years in the proportion of survey respondents reporting lack of funding as a reason for their dissatisfaction, it seems the public is increasingly aware of the reality of funding pressures that the NHS has experienced over the last seven years.

“With equally small increases in funding planned over the next few years and NHS performance on key headline measures worsening, it is hard to see the public’s satisfaction with the NHS improving in the near future.”

Linda Thomas, vice chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: “The consequences of historic underfunding of adult social care gets worse with every passing year.

“It is therefore no surprise that the public is becoming more aware of the impacts, including threats to the quality and availability of care, with an increasing number of providers either pulling out of contracts or going out of business.”

She said satisfaction could only increase were the government to find new money to help plug the £2.3bn the service would face by 2020.

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