Public satisfaction with the NHS plummets as patients 'worried and confused' over health reformsHealth Minister said survey not accurate reflection as targeted general public rather than those who had recently used the NHS



10:13 GMT, 12 June 2012

The NHS Confederation chief executive said the drop in confidence in the service was disturbing

The NHS Confederation chief executive said the drop in confidence in the service was disturbing

The British public has fallen out of love with the NHS in dramatic fashion, according to a 'social attitudes' report.

Satisfaction with the way the health service is run fell from 70 per cent in 2010 to 58 per cent in 2011, the survey published by the King's Fund, found.

The authors of the report said the drop was the biggest fall in one year since the survey began in 1983.

The British Social Attitudes 2011 which questioned 1,096 people about their views on health care between July and November last year, found that satisfaction with GPs dropped slightly from 77 per cent in 2010 to 73 per cent in 2011.

It also found slight drops in satisfaction with inpatient, outpatient and accident and emergency services.

However, satisfaction with NHS dental services improved by five percentage points – from 51 per cent in 2010 to 56 per cent in 2011.

King's Fund chief economist John Appleby said: 'The value of this survey is that it has tracked public satisfaction over a long period, providing an important barometer of how the public view the NHS.

'The run of year-on-year increases in NHS satisfaction had to come to an end at some stage, and it is not surprising this has happened when the NHS is facing a well-publicised spending squeeze.

'Nevertheless, it is something of a shock that it has fallen so significantly. This will be a concern to the Government, given it appears to be closely linked with the debate on its NHS reforms.'

Health Minister Simon Burns said: 'Our latest survey of over 70,000 patients shows that an overwhelming majority – 92% – say that their overall experience of the NHS was good, very good or excellent.

'The British Social Attitudes survey targets the general public rather than targeting people that have actually used the NHS, so responses are influenced by other factors. /06/12/article-2158053-1391AB98000005DC-77_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Health Minister Simon Burns said their latest survey had shown 92% patients rated their care as good to excellent” class=”blkBorder” />

Health Minister Simon Burns said their latest survey had shown 92% patients rated their care as good to excellent

NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar added: 'These results give us a sharp indication that the public have become worried and confused about what is going on with the NHS.

'It would appear very likely that much of this relates to the understanding and support for the recent reforms.

'It is really important that politicians and NHS leaders are engaging the public in the major debate about the NHS and how we need to change in order to sustain and improve the services they have come to expect and value over recent years.

'Any drop in confidence in the service or confusion about the nature of current reform is therefore troubling.

'Over the coming months, it is going to be more important than ever that the Government and the NHS communicate effectively the financial and service challenges we face.'

Royal College of Nursing Chief Executive & General Secretary, Dr Peter Carter, said: 'These findings are disappointing but not surprising. Over the past couple of years we have seen tens of thousands of posts stripped out of the health service. Staff are working under huge amounts of stress and pressure.

'This is a particular issue in accident and emergency settings and sadly we have heard many cases of patients being regularly treated on corridors.

'The RCN has consistently said that the programme of huge reform coming at a time as the service in England struggles to save 20 billion will have negative consequences. This survey now bears this out and the Government will have to sit up and take notice of these findings.'