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18
Sep

Public rating of NHS falls


Fewer people are satisfied with the NHS and the proportion of people who want to see more public spending has increased for the first time in nearly a decade, a study has revealed.

Fewer people are satisfied with the NHS and the proportion of people who want to see more public spending has increased for the first time in nearly a decade, a study has revealed.

Since the Government began its programme of health reforms, the proportion of Britons satisfied with the NHS has fallen from an all-time high of 70% in 2010 to 58% in 2011. This is according to the British Social Attitudes report by NatCen Social Research.

The Natcen report asks: “How can we explain this decline in overall satisfaction and with many NHS services? Firstly, it may well be that respondents are expressing greater dissatisfaction with the NHS as a proxy for their dissatisfaction with other matters - such as the coalition government itself or its wider policies.

“Previous surveys have shown us that people who identify with a particular political party tend to voice greater satisfaction with the NHS when that party is inpower - and vice versa. However, while we see Labour supporters' satisfaction fall by 17% points a year after the 2010 election - reflecting an expected partisanship - we also see Conservative and Liberal Democrat satisfaction fall.

“So while there is a degree of partisanship apparent, and this can explain some of the decline, the fact that even supporters of the governing parties recorded a decline in satisfaction suggests a more complicated story. There were no significant differences by other demographic indicators - satisfaction levels fell among all age groups, income bands and educational qualifications.”

The report goes on toe say that another reason behind the fall in satisfaction levels is that “expectations of good service from the NHS have increased disproportionately compared with the quality of service being delivered.

“Public expectations of the quality of the services the NHS provides can be expected to go on increasing over time. But there seems little reason (or evidence) to suppose that rising expectations outstripped NHS performance to the extent that they alone could account for the biggest fall in satisfaction since the survey began in 1983.”

Alternatively, falling satisfaction might reflect an actual deterioration of the quality of service people receive, the report states.

“It seems likely that a decline in overall satisfaction with the NHS can be explained by several different factors. Of these, anxieties about the government's far-reaching reforms to the organisation of the NHS and - to an extent - worries arising from the slow-down in funding growth are likely to play a prominent role.”

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