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09.02.16

Public dissatisfaction with NHS has largest single-year rise since 1983

Dissatisfaction with the NHS has had its largest single-year increase since in 1983, according to new research.

The latest findings from the British Social Attitudes survey, published today, showed that the percentage of people describing themselves as very or quite dissatisfied with the NHS rose from 15% to 23% between 2014 and 2015, representing the largest single rise since the survey began in 1983.

The three biggest reasons given for being dissatisfied were long waiting times, lack of staff and a lack of government funding.

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.”

The survey, conducted by NatCen Social Research, also found that the percentage of people saying they were very or quite satisfied with the NHS fell from 65% to 60% between 2014 and 2015. The main reasons people gave for being satisfied were the quality of NHS care, the fact that care is free at the point of use and the range of services and treatments available on the NHS.

A spokesman for the Department of Health in England told BBC News: "There is pressure on the NHS as our population ages, and that's why the government is investing record amounts to transform care."

Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander said: “This is the clearest sign yet that the public has lost trust in David Cameron’s handling of the NHS.

“The fact that one quarter of the public are now dissatisfied with the NHS shows just how far it has declined on this government’s watch. Hospitals are in financial crisis, there are severe staff shortages, and patients are finding it harder to see their GP.

“Ministers might be in denial but the reality is that five years of a Tory government have left the NHS understaffed, underfunded and unable to cope with rising demand – and it is patient care which is suffering.”

The survey also reports that satisfaction with GP services is at 69%, the lowest since the survey began. However, GP services remained the most popular service.

Social care had the lowest rate of satisfaction on 26%, a five percentage point fall from last year.

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