Satisfaction with NHS and social care services

British Social Attitudes also asks people how satisfied or dissatisfied they are with some specific NHS services.

Latest public satisfaction survey

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

Trends in satisfaction with GP and NHS dentistry services

Figure 3 shows trends for satisfaction with GP and NHS dentistry services. Satisfaction with GP services has traditionally been high –  ranging from a low of 71 per cent in 2001 to 80 per cent in 2009. Satisfaction declined to 73 per cent in 2011, and has remained at around that level since (74 per cent in both 2012 and 2013). Satisfaction with GP services remains fairly consistently high, showing less variation year on year than satisfaction with other services and the NHS overall.

By contrast, and apart from one year (2000), satisfaction with dentistry had been in long-term decline since the British Social Attitudes survey began. From a high of 74 per cent in 1986, it fell to just 42 per cent in 2006 and remained at that level through to 2008. Rates then began to climb, up to 56 per cent in 2011 and 2012. In 2013 the satisfaction rate of 57 per cent was statistically unchanged from the previous two years, but, with the exception of the year 2000, represents the highest level of satisfaction with NHS dentists since 1994.

Trends in satisfaction with inpatient, outpatient, and accident and emergency services

Figure 4 shows trends in satisfaction for three hospital-based services: inpatients, outpatients, and accident and emergency (A&E).

As with NHS dentistry, satisfaction with inpatients declined steadily from 1983 through to 2006 and then increased steadily to nearly 60 per cent in 2010. In 2011, however, satisfaction declined, and, alone among the other NHS services, it fell again in 2012 to 52 per cent. In 2013 however, satisfaction increased by 6 percentage points to 58 per cent, almost back to its 20-year high reported in 2010, 2009, and 2000.

Satisfaction with NHS outpatient services was at its lowest recorded rate in 2001 (50 per cent). From then it climbed steadily (apart from a fluctuation in 2006) until 2009 and 2010 when it stabilised at 67 per cent. Satisfaction then dropped to 61 per cent in 2011, but has climbed in the two years since, and is now back to its highest recorded level of 67 per cent.

Satisfaction with social care in 2013 compared to satisfaction with NHS services

In 2013, public satisfaction with A&E services was lower than satisfaction with any other NHS service. After reaching their highest rate in 2010 (61 per cent) rates have fluctuated, declining to 54 per cent in 2011, jumping back up to 59 per cent in 2012, then dropping again in 2013 to 53 per cent. This fall in satisfaction will probably reflect in part well-publicised problems with breaches of the four-hour A&E minimum waiting time target in March and April last year.

Figure 5 brings together the 2013 results for satisfaction (and dissatisfaction) with the NHS overall and with its separate services. It also shows the results for satisfaction with social care. As in previous years, the public say they are most satisfied with GP services. Accident and emergency services received the lowest satisfaction ratings among NHS services, a change from 2012 when both inpatient and dentistry services had lower satisfaction ratings than A&E.

Satisfaction with social care services is considerably lower; just 29 per cent of respondents were very or quite satisfied with social care and 29 per cent were very or quite dissatisfied. Although an almost equal proportion (31 per cent) were neutral, and 12 per cent did not know, this represents quite a high level of dissatisfaction with social care. A similar question on social care satisfaction was also asked in 2012, with slightly different wording, but with similar results.

More from the British Social Attitudes survey 2013