Satisfaction with the NHS overall – results 1

Overall, satisfaction with the way the NHS across Britain runs nowadays fell by 12 percentage points from 70 per cent in 2010 to 58 per cent in 2011. This is the biggest fall in one year since the British Social Attitudes survey began in 1983, although this still remains the third highest recorded level of satisfaction in the history of the survey.

Latest public satisfaction survey

View the most recent results: British Social Attitudes survey.

Figure 1

Figure 1: How satisfied or dissatisfied would you say you are with<br> the way in which the National Health Service runs nowadays?

Trends in satisfaction with the NHS since 1983

The graph above shows trends in satisfaction with the NHS since 1983. Apart from two of the earliest years (1983 and 1984), satisfaction (ie, those who say they are either quite satisfied or very satisfied with the NHS) fluctuated between 34 per cent and 44 per cent. Between 1997 (the year the new Labour government took office) and 1999, satisfaction rose from 34 to 46 per cent then fell back to 39 per cent in 2001 (an indication that the possible 'honeymoon' period for the Labour government had ended). But from then, overall satisfaction with the NHS rose to an all-time high of 70 per cent in 2010 – reflecting rising funding levels and improvements in the things patients and the public cared about (such as shorter waiting times (Appleby and Robertson 2010). This increase in satisfaction was generally mirrored by a decline in dissatisfaction, with less switching between satisfaction and 'neither satisfied nor dissatisfied' from year to year.

The latest results for 2011, however, show a marked drop in overall satisfaction – from 70 per cent to 58 per cent. While this level of satisfaction remains the third highest since 1983, this fall is the largest drop in satisfaction in one year since the British Social Attitudes survey started. The results also show rises in dissatisfaction – from an all-time low of around 18 per cent in 2010 to 24 per cent, and a rise in more equivocal attitudes (from 12 per cent to 18 per cent).

See Figure 2 for an alternative summary measure of trends in satisfaction

Public satisfaction with the NHS and its services - other sections