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Public worry grows over state of the NHS

What does the public think about the state of the NHS?

Think-tank researchers say a drop in public satisfaction over health services is down to growing anxieties over the funding and staffing of the NHS.

Nuffield Trust and King’s Fund findings in the National Centre for Social Research’s (NatCen) British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey show:

  • the proportion of people who said they were ‘very’ or ‘quite’ satisfied with the NHS fell from 63% in 2016 to 57% in 2017. Those who said they were ‘very’ or ‘quite’ dissatisfied grew from 22% in 2016 to 29% in 2017
  • the main reasons for satisfaction were: the quality of care, the fact the NHS was free at the point of use, the attitudes and behaviour of NHS staff and the range of services and treatments available
  • the four main reasons for dissatisfaction were: staff shortages, long waiting times, lack of funding and government reforms
  • overall satisfaction with the NHS was higher among people aged 65 years or older (63%) than among adults under 65 (55%). Between 2016 and 2017, satisfaction fell among all age groups
  • satisfaction with GP services fell to 65% in 2017 and inpatient services fell to 55% in 2017
  • satisfaction with social care services was 23% in 2017 and dissatisfaction increased by 6% percentage points in 2017 to 41%

Professor John Appleby, chief economist and director of research at the Nuffield Trust, said: ‘The drop in satisfaction and rise in dissatisfaction this year suggest that the public are worried about the NHS… the government needs to put the NHS on a sustainable financial footing so it can continue to provide the same high quality, free at the point of use care that it is valued for by the general public.’

Ruth Robertson, fellow at the King’s Fund, said: ‘The drop in public satisfaction with the NHS… comes amid widespread political concern about the future of the service. Just as striking is that satisfaction with general practice has slumped to its lowest levels since the survey started in 1983.’

Further information

King’s Fund: National Centre for Social Research’s (NatCen) British social attitudes (BSA) survey
King’s Fund: Sharp drop in public satisfaction with the NHS, new analysis shows
Nuffield Trust: Public satisfaction with the NHS and social care in 2017: Results and trends from the British Social Attitudes survey