Public satisfaction with the way the National Health Service runs remained unchanged from last year at 60 per cent, according to British Social Attitudes survey data for 2013. Published by The King’s Fund a year before the 2015 general election, the data confirms that public satisfaction with the NHS has stabilised after a record fall in 2011 from its all-time high of 70 per cent in 2010.
While public satisfaction with most services also remain high, satisfaction with accident and emergency (A&E) services dropped by six percentage points from 59 per cent (2012) to 53 per cent (2013), its lowest level since 2008. This is the lowest satisfaction rate of any NHS service in 2013. This fall follows the well-publicised breaches in the four-hour A&E waiting time target last year. In contrast, satisfaction with hospital outpatient services climbed to a record high of 67 per cent, while satisfaction with inpatient services jumped six percentage points to 58 per cent.
The survey, conducted by NatCen Social Research, also showed that public satisfaction in GP services was unchanged at 74 per cent, while satisfaction with dentists remained steady at 57 per cent. In contrast to the high levels of satisfaction with the NHS, satisfaction with social care remains low. Just 29 cent of respondents were very or quite satisfied with social care with an equal proportion being dissatisfied.
With exactly a year to go until polling day, the data shows satisfaction levels beginning to diverge along party lines. Between 2012 and 2013, satisfaction increased slightly amongst Conservative supporters (by three percentage points to 66 per cent), remained the same among Liberal Democrats at 63 per cent, and dropped slightly among supporters of the Labour party (reducing by four percentage points to 59 per cent).
John Appleby, Chief Economist at The King’s Fund, said: ‘Since 1983 the British Social Attitudes survey has provided an important barometer of how the public views the NHS. Public satisfaction in the NHS remains high, although satisfaction with A&E has dropped. This may be due to concerns about waiting times in 2013.’
To mark a year until the next general election today, The King’s Fund is launching a new section on its website, which will analyse and provide commentary on the health and social care debate leading up to polling day on 7 May 2015.