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Only 1 in 4 Brits satisfied with NHS despite government reforms

Written on:June 12, 2023
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Unlike government, the British Social Attitudes Survey recorded fall in 'NHS satisfaction'

The British Social Attitudes Survey reported that patients’ confidence in the NHS has fallen from 70% to 58% last year, recording the biggest slump since the survey began almost 30 years ago.

The gloomy figures were unveiled yesterday as Andrew Lansley, Health Secretary, warned the British Medical Association to halt next week’s industrial action over pensions. The King’s Fund, which started funding the survey after the coalition stopped commissioning it in 2011, held the government’s health reforms and the funding squeeze on the NHS responsible for decline in satisfaction.

However, ministers yesterday countered the think tank with the Health Department’s Mori poll, which shows that NHS satisfaction has remained high at 70%. Both the polls had interviewed similar-sized samples of around 1,000 and were conducted last year, when controversy about the NHS reforms and budgetary pressures were making headlines.

John Appleby, chief economist at the King’s Fund think-tank, blamed rising expectations or reducing quality of NHS service for the drop. ”It may be that a combination of ministerial rhetoric to justify the reforms, concern about the reforms themselves and reaction to the funding squeeze combined to create worries about the NHS and dent the public perception it is being run well”, said Professor Appleby.

Countering Professor Appleby, Simon Burns, the Health minister, said ”The British Social Attitudes Survey targets the general public rather than people that have actually used the NHS, so responses are influenced by other factors.”

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said, “The NHS was working and people will not forgive David Cameron for allowing it to be turned upside down in a wasteful £3bn re-organisation at the worst possible time.”

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