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Less than a quarter of people satisfied with the NHS, survey finds

Less than a quarter of people satisfied with the NHS, survey finds
By Beth Gault
27 March 2024

Public satisfaction with the NHS is at 24%, according to a survey by the King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust.

The British social attitudes survey found that since 2020, satisfaction with the NHS has dropped by 29 percentage points, with five of those in the past year alone.

Most respondents (71%) said long waiting times for GP and hospital appointments was one of the main reasons for their dissatisfaction, while others mentioned staffing shortages (54%) and the lack of funding from the government (47%).

The majority of responses (84%) also said the NHS has a major or severe funding problem, and almost half (48%) would support increased taxes and spending on the NHS.

The reasons cited for being satisfied with the NHS included it being free at the point of use (66%), and that it had a good range of services (53%). Over 50% also cited the quality of NHS care as a reason.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that public satisfaction with social services in particular is at the lowest level ever recorded, at 13%.

The research was carried out by the National Centre for Social Research between September and October 2023.

Senior fellow at The King’s Fund, Dan Wellings, said: ‘With the health service increasingly unable to meet the expectations and needs of those who rely on it, public satisfaction with the NHS is now in uncharted territory. The size of the challenge to recover it is growing more difficult with each passing year. Ahead of the upcoming general election, political leaders should take note of just how far satisfaction with this celebrated public institution has fallen.  

‘The public are clear that they want shorter waits for care, better staffing levels and more funding. Despite the challenging economic circumstances, our analysis suggests that one in two people may be prepared to pay more for the NHS through taxation, especially those with the deepest pockets.’ 

Jessica Morris, fellow at The Nuffield Trust said it was ‘worrying’ how consistent the dissatisfaction was across the different NHS services, as inpatient, outpatient, dentistry and GP services all reported record low levels of satisfaction.

She added: ‘Despite such low levels of satisfaction, the public continue to back the principles underpinning the NHS. The public has not fallen out of love with the idea of a publicly funded, free at the point of use NHS, but they are losing confidence that it will support them and their loved ones in the best possible way when they need it.’ 

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