Satisfaction with NHS and social care services, 2014

Since 1983, the National Centre for Social Research’s British Social Attitudes survey has asked the public – rather than simply patients – about their views on and feelings towards the NHS and health care issues generally. The latest survey was carried out between August and September 2014. Here we present the top-line results and trends from the survey. This is page 4 of 8 of our full report.

GP and NHS dentistry services

British Social Attitudes also asks people how satisfied or dissatisfied they are with specific NHS services. Figure 3 shows trends for satisfaction with GP and NHS dentistry services.

Satisfaction with GP services has traditionally been high, with less variation year on year than other services and the NHS overall. However, since 2009 satisfaction with GP services has generally shown a downward trend. In 2014 it reached 71 per cent, the lowest reported level since the survey began.

Public satisfaction with dentistry is consistently lower than with other NHS services. However, following nearly 20 years of decline, and a period of plateau, satisfaction has been improving in recent years. Between 2013 and 2014 reported satisfaction declined from 57 to 54 per cent, the first year-on-year decline in eight years, although the change was within the survey’s margin of error.

Inpatient, outpatient and A&E services

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

As with NHS dentistry, satisfaction with inpatients declined steadily from 1983 through to 2006 before increasing 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. For the past two years, levels of satisfaction have improved, reaching 59 per cent in 2014.

For the past decade, the public has viewed outpatient services more positively than inpatient care. Since 2010 satisfaction with outpatient services has been increasing, and it reached an all-time high in 2014 of 69 per cent.

Recent data on satisfaction with A&E services has fluctuated, with no clear pattern. After reaching its highest rate in 2010 (61 per cent), satisfaction dropped to 54 per cent in 2011, jumped back to 59 per cent in 2012, dropped to 53 per cent in 2013 and in 2014 was up once again to 58 per cent.

NHS and social care services

Figure 5 brings together the 2014 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 satisfaction with GPs has been declining over the past few years while satisfaction with outpatient services has improved, there is now little difference in levels of satisfaction with the two services. Dentistry received the lowest satisfaction ratings among NHS services, a change from 2013 when satisfaction with A&E services was lower.

Satisfaction with social care services is considerably lower than for NHS services; just 31 per cent of respondents were very or quite satisfied with social care provided by local authorities and 30 per cent were very or quite dissatisfied. An equal proportion (30 per cent) were neutral, and 8 per cent did not know, suggesting many respondents are less certain about their views on social care as opposed to health services. This may reflect a lack of familiarity with social care services combined with relatively less media attention on social care. The results are similar to 2013 when 29 per cent of respondents reported that they were satisfied and 29 per cent were dissatisfied with social care.

Next: Who is satisfied with the NHS?

Explore the full report

  1. Key findings and summary
  2. Introduction
  3. Satisfaction with the NHS overall
  4. Satisfaction with NHS and social care services 
  5. Who is satisfied with the NHS? 
  6. Conclusion
  7. About the British Social Attitudes survey
  8. References and acknowledgements