Public satisfaction with the NHS fell from 70 per cent in 2010 to 58 per cent in 2011, according to data published by independent charity The King's Fund.
This represents the largest decline since the British Social Attitudes Survey began in 1983; however, NHS satisfaction remains at its third highest level on record.
More than 1,000 people were surveyed between July and November last year, a period coinciding with the first 12 months of a four-year real- terms freeze in NHS spending, plus the passage of the controversial Health and Social Care Bill.
The King's Fund said the fall in satisfaction was 'unlikely to reflect a deterioration in the quality of services', instead putting it down to concern over government health policy.
King's Fund chief economist John Appleby said: 'The run of year-on-year increases in NHS satisfaction had to come to an end at some stage and it is not surprising this has happened when the NHS is facing a well-publicised spending squeeze.
'Nevertheless, it is something of a shock that it has fallen so significantly. This will be a concern to the government given it appears to be closely linked with the debate on its NHS reforms.'