NHS satisfaction levels at lowest in over a decade

A survey sponsored by the Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund has found that public satisfaction with the NHS has fallen to its lowest level in over ten years.

The British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey found that general levels of satisfaction have dropped to 53%. This represents a three percent decrease in satisfaction in the last year, and is the lowest level of satisfaction since 2007.

Of the near 3000 people surveyed between July and October 2018, a third of those who said they were dissatisfied with the NHS (305) were further asked to give three reasons as to why they were dissatisfied.

The biggest areas of concern were:

Waiting too long for GP or Hospital appointments

GP, Accident and Emergency and Ambulance response times have all been hit heavily in the last few years and are the most impactful of factors on overall NHS satisfaction. 53 percent of those surveyed found this to be the most dissatisfying factor.

GP wait times were a significant problem in Lincolnshire last year, with a report by Healthwatch (“when will I be seen”) stating: “Unfortunately, doctors are now facing significantly increased demand, with reduced capacity, due to shortage of workforce colleagues, resulting in less availability of appointments. Patients can wait around 3 weeks (sometimes more), for a routine appointment.”

Accident and Emergency wait times were also a problem, with the United Lincolnshire Hospitals only treating 62.7% of patients admitted within the, now scrapped, 4 hour target. This was the worst of 131 trusts according to the BBC. Although the BSA found that general attitudes towards Accident and Emergency hadn’t significantly changed, with 53% of people being satisfied.

Understaffing

52 percent of those surveyed said that staffing was one of the primary reasons for dissatisfaction. The number of people dissatisfied with staffing has also increased since 2015, and with projected gaps between staff needed and the number available expected to be around 250,000 by 2030, this could become an even greater problem if predictions are correct.

Government spending

The report found that the number of people citing the lack of government spending as being dissatisfying had increased since 2015, with 49% saying it was one of the main areas of concern. Funding for the Department of Health has grown every year, though the rate of this growth has significantly slowed down.

The survey concluded with this statement: “…with less-firm commitments to reducing waiting times than there were in the past, and the government’s strategy for dealing with critical workforce issues still outstanding, we must wait to see when the decade-long slide in public satisfaction with the NHS will come to an end.”

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