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Public satisfaction rates with the NHS drop to their lowest in 25 years

By April 1, 2022No Comments

Public satisfaction levels with the NHS have dropped to their lowest in 25 years according to a new measure of public opinion. Satisfaction rates had already lowered during the pandemic, with 36% of the 3,100 asked being satisfied in 2021. That is a drop from 53% the year before – the largest fall in a single year.

Only once before has the level been lower than this, which was in 1997 during the Blair government. At the time, measures had to be taken in response to the findings, and the NHS budget was increased by record amounts.

Satisfaction with GP and hospital services are both at their lowest levels in years. An initial ‘halo’ period around the NHS from the start of the pandemic, as the public rallied to support frontline health workers, has now dissipated as backlogs build and services become difficult to access.

Government ministers have pointed to the COVID recovery plans already published by England, Scotland and Wales. Funding for health and social care is also poised to rise from this month onwards through the increase in national insurance contributions.

The findings of the survey, carried out by the National Centre for Social Research in England, Scotland and Wales last autumn, have been published by the Nuffield Trust and King’s Fund think-tanks. Factors such as age, political party following and income were found to have had no bearing on the low satisfaction rates.

Saffron Cordery, deputy Chief Executive of NHS Providers, said the sharp drop in satisfaction was a “real concern”, but was not “altogether surprising” given the pressures posed by the pandemic.

Ben Kemp