British Social Attitudes survey 2013: conclusion

As the results for 2013 show, while satisfaction with the NHS overall remains relatively high by historical standards, rates remain essentially unchanged compared to 2012, with little improvement since the sharp drop seen in 2011.

In 2011, we suggested that the 12 percentage-point drop in satisfaction reflected a combination of response to ministerial rhetoric to justify the government’s reforms of the NHS (poor performance and hence a need for change), concern about the reforms themselves, and reaction to the funding squeeze. These created generalised worries about the NHS and dented the public perception that the NHS was being run well.

While public concern about the NHS may well have persisted into 2013, there is little to suggest any increase in concern – which may prompt a deterioration in satisafaction. The fact that satisfaction remains at the levels reported in 2012 could be seen as a measure of success for the NHS in terms of broadly maintaining performance in areas that matter most to the public (such as waiting times), despite the continued financial pressure on the NHS across Britain. However, where performance does dip – for example, problems with waiting times in A&E in late winter and early spring last year – this is reflected in concomitant falls in satisfaction (in this case, with A&E services).

Latest public satisfaction survey

View the most recent results: British Social Attitudes survey 2015.