Public satisfaction over the NHS is lowest in a decade, despite £20bn ‘birthday boost’

Public satisfaction over the NHS is lowest in a decade, despite £20bn ‘birthday boost’

The survey of 3,000 people also found that satisfaction with GPs is the lowest since the annual polling began in 1983. Just 63 per cent of those polled were satisfied, while 24 per cent of respondents were dissatisfied – double the levels in 2009.

The highest rating was for hospital outpatients, with 70 per cent of participants rating these positively.

However, health officials recently announced plans for major changes to the system, with one in three appointments scrapped within a decade, and smartphone consultations instead offered under “digital first” plans.

The polling for think tanks the King’s Fund and Nuffield trust was carried out last summer, after the Prime Minister announced a £20bn funding boost for the NHS, as it turned 70.

But researchers said the findings suggested that there had been no “birthday bounce” for the service, in terms of public satisfaction.  

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 “gift” of a 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 among the main reasons for their dissatisfaction and cash alone will not solve these.”

Professor John Appleby, director of research and chief economist at The Nuffield Trust, said: “Satisfaction with general practice – historically the service people were most satisfied with – has been falling for the past decade and is now at its lowest since the BSA survey began over 30 years ago.”

He said difficulties getting to see a GP were likely to explain the trends, with “virtually everybody” having had the experience of struggling to get an appointment, despite phoning early in the morning in an attempt to get through.

“It wasn’t always like that; its been over maybe the last decade or so that access has become problematic with general practice,” he said. “Even when you do get through and get an appointment, satisfaction with the length of time that you get with a GP …there has been a deterioration there,” he added.

The findings also showed differences between different voters, which researchers said could be seen as a “proxy vote” indicating support or opposition to Government. In total, 58 per cent of Conservative voters were satisfied with the NHS, dropping to 51 per cent among Labour voters.

Researchers said that in the past, there had been a “lag” between extra investment being promised for the NHS, and a boost in satisfaction levels.

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