Rise in patients’ unhappiness with NHS

By Laura Donnelly HEALTH EDITOR



Daily Telegraph



DISSATISFACTION with the NHS has risen more sharply than at any time over the past 30 years amid growing concern about GP and hospital waiting times, a poll has found. The British Social Attitudes survey shows that dissatisfaction with the NHS rose by 8 per cent to 23 per cent in one year, the largest singleyear increase since 1986. The survey published by the King’s Fund found that GPs had the worst rating since the survey was first carried out in 1983. It follows national research which found the number of patients waiting at least a week for a GP appointment had risen by almost one third in three years. The poll found that waiting times for GP and hospital appointments were the greatest drivers of dissatisfaction, with lack of staff and under-funding cited as other factors. Overall, NHS satisfaction, which peaked at 70 per cent in 2010, fell from 65 per cent in 2014 to 60 per cent last year. The rise in those saying they were actively dissatisfied rose yet more sharply, with almost one in four people expressing this sentiment. The survey was carried out between July and October last year among more than 2,000 members of the public. Overall, GP services had higher satisfaction levels than other NHS services, as has been the case in previous years. But the 69 per cent satisfaction rating is the lowest since the survey began, and a 10 per cent drop since 2009. The biggest drivers of satisfaction within the NHS were quality of care and the fact it is free at the point of use. The satisfaction level among Conservative supporters was 65 per cent and 59 per cent of Labour supporters were satisfied. The survey also found major concerns about social care, with just 26 per cent of those polled expressing satisfaction, a 5 per cent drop in one year. John Appleby, chief economist at the King’s Fund, said: “The British Social Attitudes Survey has traditionally been seen as a barometer of how well the NHS is performing. “The latest survey underlines the high value the British public places on the quality of care the NHS provides and its availability free at the point of use. It is no surprise to find that dissatisfaction is driven by waiting times for appointments and perceptions of underfunding and staff shortages.”