Public satisfaction with the NHS has fallen to its lowest level since 2007, according to analysis of the 2018 British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey published today by The King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust.
The survey, carried out by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), is seen as a gold standard measure of public attitudes. It finds that, following a sharp drop in 2017, public satisfaction with the health service fell by a further 3 percentage points in 2018 to 53 per cent, its lowest level in over a decade and 16 percentage points below its historical peak of 70 per cent in 2010. The continued fall in satisfaction came despite Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement last June – just before the interviews for the survey were undertaken – of a £20bn long-term funding boost for the health service.
The think tanks’ analysis also reveals that public satisfaction with general practice has declined over the past decade. In 2018, it remained at its lowest level since the survey began in 1983 (63 per cent), while dissatisfaction with general practice remained at its highest level since the survey began. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of respondents reported being dissatisfied with their GP service – double the level of dissatisfaction in 2009.
The founding principle of the NHS, that it is free at the point of use, remains one of the primary reasons people are satisfied with the NHS (selected by 62 per cent of satisfied respondents). The survey also reported an increase over the past three years in the proportion of people who cited quality of NHS care as a reason for their satisfaction (71 per cent). Concerns over waiting times, NHS staff shortages and inadequate funding remained the top three reasons people gave for being dissatisfied with the NHS in 2018.