Possible explanations for the fall in satisfaction 2

One way to tease out some of the difference between perception and reality of the quality of NHS services is to examine satisfaction by those respondents who have had recent personal contact with the NHS (in particular inpatients or outpatient services) and compare their reported satisfaction levels with the NHS overall with those without recent contact.

Figure 6

Figure 6: Satisfaction* with NHS overall: Recent contact/no contact** with outpatient services

A perceived reduction in quality

It might be expected that the satisfaction of people with recent actual experience of the NHS would be better aligned with the reality of the quality (at least as they experienced it) of NHS care. The graph above shows trends in satisfaction with the NHS overall for those with and without recent contact with outpatient services (similar trends are apparent for those with and without recent contact with inpatients). As no data on contact was collected in 2010, satisfaction rates for all contact/no contact groups have been imputed (see note to figure).

This suggests – based on the imputed figures – a fall in satisfaction with the NHS overall of 11 and 6 percentage points for contact and no contact groups respectively. These falls might seem to provide some evidence of a real reduction in the quality of NHS services. However, it is not conclusive; other things (including external factors such as media stories and more internal factors such as NHS staff attitudes and behaviour) will impinge on patients' views of their stay in hospital, which will be independent of the actual quality of their care.

Possible explanations for the fall in satisfaction - other data in this section

Public satisfaction with the NHS and its services - other sections