This site is intended for healthcare professionals only

Public satisfaction with the NHS and general practice at record lows

Written by: | Published:

The survey found that public satisfaction with GP The survey found that public satisfaction with GP services has declined

Public satisfaction with the NHS has fallen to its lowest level since 2007, according to the 2018 British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey.

The survey, found that, following a sharp drop in 2017, public satisfaction with the health service fell by a further 3% in 2018 to 53%, its lowest level in over a decade and 16 percentage points below its historical peak of 70% in 2010.

‘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,’ said Ruth Robertson, Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund. ‘In the short term at least, the promise of more money doesn’t appear to buy satisfaction. The public identified long-standing issues such as staff shortages and waiting times amongst the main reasons for their dissatisfaction and cash alone will not solve these.’

The survey also found 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, at 63%, while dissatisfaction with general practice remained at its highest level since the survey began. Almost a quarter (of respondents reported being dissatisfied with their GP service, which is 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% 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%). 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.

‘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,’ said Professor John Appleby, Director of Research and Chief Economist at The Nuffield Trust. ‘This may reflect continued strain on general practice, with mounting workloads and staff shortages and the evidence shows that people are finding it harder to get appointments than before. 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.’

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

This material is protected by MA Healthcare Ltd copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.


Whilst the public continue to complain about not being able to get appointments it would appear that they ARE aware of the reasons why - yet patients still complain at every opportunity about having to wait as if it's the clinician's fault. I agree, money isn't going to make much difference and there are more GPs deciding to leave general practice partnerships and just do locum work; it's more financially rewarding without the pressures of NHS targets and QOF. However, paying health care staff higher rates would encourage people into the professions, increase staff morale, and reduce the ridiculous amount of money paid to medical and nursing staffing agencies - which they are all loathe to mention when it comes to increasing deficits. There is so much false economy and bad management within the NHS nowadays it's just one big black financial hole.
Posted by: ,

Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code

Read a free issue from Practice Nursing

Register to read a free issue from our sister publication, Practice Nursing.

Including articles on asthma, diabetes and more. Read your copy.


Sign up to the newsletter


Independent Nurse is the professional resource for primary care and community nurses, providing clinical articles for practice nurses and prescribers.


Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with the latest nursing news.

Stay Connected

Stay social with Independent Nurse by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or connecting on LinkedIn.


Need access to some of our older articles? You can view our archive, or alternatively contact us.

Contact Us

MA Healthcare Ltd.
St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road
London, SE24 0PB

Tel: +44 (0)20 7738 5454
Registered in England and Wales No. 01878373

Meet the team


Find out how to contribute to Independent Nurse here.