Satisfaction with GP services has dropped to its lowest point in 35 years, while overall public satisfaction with the NHS has also taken a significant downturn, according to findings of the latest British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey.
The survey, carried out by the Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund think tanks for the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), showed that satisfaction slipped 7 percentage points to 65 percent, marking the lowest figure since the research started in 1983 and also the first time that general practice was not the top-rated service.
“This reflects the huge pressure on general practices, which are struggling to meet growing demand and recruit enough GPs. Given this context, it’s not surprising that public satisfaction with general practice has been in steady decline since 2010,” said Ruth Robertson, fellow at The King’s Fund.
This sentiment was echoed by Professor Helen-Stokes Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, who commented: “while we are very disappointed in these figures, they are hardly surprising as what we are seeing now is symptomatic of the inevitable effects of a decade of underinvestment in our family doctor service – and just not having enough GPs in the system to meet demand.”
“We desperately need the pledges made in NHS England’s GP Forward View – including £2.4bn more a year for general practice, 5,000 more GPs and 5,000 more members of the wider practice team by 2020 – to be delivered in full.”
Public satisfaction with the NHS dropped 6 percentage points in a year to 57 percent, its lowest point since 2011, while dissatisfaction with the health service rose to 29 percent, the highest level in a decade.
The top four reasons for satisfaction were quality of care, the fact the NHS was free at the point of use, attitudes and behaviour of NHS staff, and the range of services and treatments on offer.
Conversely, the four key factors driving dissatisfaction were staff shortages, long waiting times, lack of funding and government reforms.
“Despite mounting pressure on the NHS, satisfaction in the health service has remained high in recent years, with satisfaction staying above 60 percent for most of this decade. In the last year, however, the tide has started to turn. The drop in satisfaction and rise in dissatisfaction this year suggest that the public are worried about the NHS,” said Professor John Appleby, chief economist and director of research at the Nuffield Trust.
“We know that public dissatisfaction is increasingly driven by concerns over funding and staffing levels and they’re right to be anxious. As the NHS celebrates its 70th year, the government needs to put the NHS on a sustainable financial footing so it can continue to provide the same high quality, free at the point of use care that it is valued for by the general public.”