Satisfaction with the NHS overall – results

The British Social Attitudes survey asks people how satisfied or dissatisfied they are with the way in which the NHS runs.

Latest public satisfaction survey

View the most recent results: British Social Attitudes survey.

Trends in satisfaction with the NHS since 1983

Figure 1 shows trends in overall 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 up to 2004.

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 steadily to an all-time high of 70 per cent in 2010 – mainly reflecting rising levels of NHS funding and improvements in the things patients and the public cared about (such as shorter waiting times. This increase in satisfaction was generally mirrored by a decline in dissatisfaction.

However, 2011 saw the largest drop in satisfaction ever recorded by the British Social Attitudes survey, down to 58 per cent. The latest results for 2012 show an increase of 3 percentage points to 61 per cent, a change that is not statistically significant. While satisfaction levels have not recovered to the high of 70 per cent recorded in 2010, they remain high by historical standards.

*Question asked: 'All in all, how satisfied or dissatisfied would you say you are with the way in which the National Health Service is run nowadays?'
NB: Question not asked in 1985, 1988 and 1992
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Net satisfaction with the NHS overall

The proportion of people who are dissatisfied with the NHS overall is also low by historical standards. When we look at net satisfaction levels – that is, the number of people who are satisfied minus the number who are dissatisfied – the net difference between satisfaction and dissatisfaction in 2012 remains the third highest since 1983 at 38 per cent (Figure 2).

*Net satisfaction = very + quite satisfied minus very + quite dissatisfied
**Question not asked in 1985, 1988 and 1992
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More from the British Social Attitudes survey 2012