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Public satisfaction with the NHS hits record new lows

New poll findings display a mere 24% of people in the UK are happy with the health service, with long waits seen to be the biggest problem area.

Every year, the National Centre for Social Research conducts its British Social Attitudes survey which examines how happy the public are with our health services. A nationally representative sample of more than 3,300 were asked for their opinion and this year’s results are the worst yet.

The survey results, which were published this morning, show that satisfaction has dropped by 29% since before the Covid-19 pandemic and by a dire 46% from the highest-ever 70% recorded in 2010 – the year the Conservatives took power.

Experts also found that satisfaction dropped by five points alone from 29% in 2022 to the 24% seen last year.

When it comes to the NHS, the research highlighted that the number of people who are displeased with it has also hit a record-breaking high since the survey began in 1983 – 52%.

Reasons for this, the report found, was because most respondents said it took too long to get a GP or hospital appointment (71%) – this problem was mentioned more than any other issue. Staffing problems within the NHS was the second most-cited reason (54%), this was followed by ‘the government doesn’t spend enough on the NHS’ (47%) and almost a third of people who took part in the survey (32%) said the NHS was wasting money.

Following a similar, yet depressing theme, the survey results also found that a whopping 57% of Brits are either ‘quite dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with social care services – another record-breaking figure.

The leading reasons given for dissatisfaction were:

  • Inadequate pay, working conditions and training for social care workers (57%)
  • People not getting the social care they need (56%)
  • Not enough support for unpaid carers (49%)

Simon Bottery, senior fellow in social care at The King’s Fund, said this can be attributed to inaction and a lack of funding from previous governments.

Commenting on the findings, Wes Streeting, shadow secretary of state for health and social care, said: ‘After 14 years of neglect, the NHS has never been in a worse state. Fewer than one in every four people say they are getting a good service, and who can blame them?’

‘Patients are waiting 18 months for an operation, more than a month for GP appointments and NHS dentistry barley exists anymore,’ Streeting added. ‘The Conservatives have taken the NHS to breaking point.’

As well as causing concerns within the Labour party, thousands of people have taken to X (formally known as Twitter) to express their frustration with the results.

Richard Murphy, an economic justice campaigner and professor at Sheffield University, tweeted: ‘The NHS could be and should be, well funded so that it might deliver for the people of this country. That it does not do so is a result of Tory policy choice.

‘NHS satisfaction ratings are at an all-time low. Both the Tories and Labour will be delighted. This is the essential prerequisite for its privatisation that both seem so desperately keen on, whatever the consequences for the people of this country might be.’

In addition, Trades Union Congress have uploaded a graphic onto X which details the rise and fall of the NHS. With it, they have typed the caption: ‘2010: 70% of people satisfied with the NHS. 2024: Just 24% satisfied with the NHS.’ 

Image: Shutterstock

More on this topic:

Poverty is causing catastrophes for the NHS, JRF warns reforms aren’t enough

Severe NHS staffing levels are causing Scottish patients to miss out

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