Public satisfaction with the NHS has fallen to a record low analysis revealed today.
Health think tanks the Nuffield Trust and The Kings Fund analysed the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey and found that overall satisfaction with the heath service stands at 29%.
The BSA survey is seen as a gold standard measure of public attitudes with this year’s showing the lowest level of satisfaction with the NHS since it began in 1983.
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Report author and fellow at the Nuffield Trust, Jessica Morris said: ‘Behind the political upheaval and turmoil playing out at the time of this survey, the British public was sending a message about the worsening situation for the NHS. The fact we have now recorded the lowest level of satisfaction with the NHS in the 40-year history of this gold standard survey is a warning siren.’
The main reasons people gave for their dissatisfaction were the waiting times for hospital and GP appointments (69%), staff shortages (55%) as well as the government not spending enough money on the NHS (50%).
‘The public can see for themselves the results of more than a decade of underfunding and a lack of workforce planning. People are struggling to get the care they need, particularly in an emergency, which is born out in the extraordinary spike in dissatisfaction with A&E services,’ explained Dan Wellings, report author and senior fellow at The King’s Fund.
Dissatisfaction with social care is higher than with the NHS overall or any of the individual NHS services.
Which director of policy and public affairs at Carers UK, Emily Holzhausen said should come at no surprise when there are more than 165,000 care worker vacancies.
‘The huge shortage of care only piles more pressure onto unpaid carers supporting relatives, who end up taking on more and more care. They cannot easily take breaks from their caring role - if at all - and many have to give up work or reduce their working hours, with significant consequences for their finances and health.’
NHS Confederation, chief executive Matthew Taylor responded warning that the analysis should serve as ‘a red flag’ to the government.
‘This should give further impetus to the government to fast track a fully funded workforce plan and provide funding increases to pay for both pay rises and improvements to the NHS’s crumbling estate. It is also clear that action on social care is more urgent than ever.’
RCN Director for England, Patricia Marquis urged ministers to publish the workforce plan to recruit and retain nursing staff, stating that the survey results add further evidence for the need to invest in the nursing workforce.
A spokesperson for the NHS said: ‘At the time this survey was carried out, staff had just treated more people with Covid-19 in hospital over the summer than the past two combined, GPs were delivering millions more appointments each month compared to before the pandemic, and it was the busiest October ever for A&E attendances and the most serious ambulance call-outs.
‘The NHS is taking significant steps to further improve patient experience, including our recently-launched blueprint to recover urgent and emergency care alongside continuing to slash the long waits for elective treatment which inevitably built up during the pandemic, and we are working on new plans to boost primary care for patients as well as publishing a long-term workforce strategy shortly.’