Public satisfaction with the NHS 'drops to lowest level in over a decade'

Posted On: 
7th March 2019

The percentage of Britons who are satisfied with the performance of the NHS has fallen to its lowest in more than a decade, a new report has found.

The British Social Attitudes survey found public satisfaction with the NHS has fallen again ni 2018
PA Images

Analysis by The King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust of the 2018 British Social Attitudes survey found 53% of the public were satisfied with the health service, down 3% from the year before and at the lowest since 2007.

The figure clashes with an historic high of 70% in 2010, which followed a decade of increasing satisfaction, from 38% in 2001.

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Elsewhere 30% were dissatisfied with the NHS - the highest since 2007 - with the main reasons given being that it takes too long to get a GP or hospital appointment, closely followed by those who said there are not enough staff.

For those who were satisfied however, the quality of NHS care was given as the main reason, followed by those who commend that it remains free at the point of use.

Elsewhere the study found that elderly users, those over 65, were more likely to be satisfied than adults younger than them, at 61% compared with 51%.

And it said Conservative voters are more likely to be satisfed than Labour voters, at 58% compared to 51%.

Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth said of the findings: “For public satisfaction in the NHS to have plummeted to such depths on the back of nearly nine years of austerity, wider cuts, staff shortages and privatisation is a damning indictment of the Tory stewardship of this vital public service.

“Satisfaction with the NHS was at an all-time high under the last Labour government and this survey confirms the public know they simply can’t trust the Tories with the NHS.”

The figures follow last year’s pledge by Theresa May’s to pump an extra £20bn of annual funding into the NHS by 2022.


Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund Ruth Robertson 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 report also found that a quarter (24%) of respondents reported being dissatisfied with their GP service – double the level of dissatisfaction in 2009.

Professor John Appleby of 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...

"The NHS long-term plan expects even more of general practice – these problems will need to be addressed quickly if that vision is to be made possible."

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: "The NHS in England was recently ranked as the safest and best health service in the world and its dedicated staff are delivering high-quality care to more patients than ever before.

“The launch of the Long Term plan - backed an extra £33.9 billion a year by 2023/24 - will safeguard our health service for generations to come and transform patient care by improving outcomes for major conditions, treating more people in their communities and increasing the frontline workforce.”