The NHS’ 70th birthday in 2018 should have be a time for celebration, but despite the hard work of its dedicated staff public satisfaction with Britain’s most cherished institution fell to its lowest level for more than a decade last year.
The British Social Attitudes survey of 3,000 people found that just 53 per cent were satisfied with services in 2018 – down 3 per cent from 2017 and the lowest level since 2007 – with Unite blaming the Tories’ “inept stewardship” of the NHS for the fall.
The Nuffield Trust and Kings Fund think tanks, which published the findings, cited inadequate funding, waiting times and staff shortages as the three main reasons for public dissatisfaction with the heath service.
King’s Fund senior fellow, Ruth Robertson, said the results were even more interesting because the survey had been conducted in the summer following the NHS’s 70th anniversary, when there was an outpouring of public affection and extra funding was announced.
‘No birthday bounce’
Robertson added, “There was no birthday bounce.”
Nearly a third of respondents said they were actively dissatisfied with services, while around 20 per cent said they were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.
Services being free at the point of use, the range of treatments and the standard of care were the three top reasons cited by those satisfied with the health service.
Praising NHS staff, Unite national officer for health Jackie Williams said the public’s declining satisfaction in the health service was a direct result of Tory budget cuts and ineptitude.
“The survey is a sorry indictment of the government’s continuing inept stewardship of the health service – it is no coincidence that the year of peak public satisfaction was in 2010, the last year of the Labour government and just before the Tory austerity regime kicked in,” said Williams.
“Unite has continually warned of ‘a perfect storm’ facing the NHS. It is clear that what the government needs to do urgently is to give a further big financial boost to the health service.
“It also needs to embark on a massive recruitment campaign to plug the staff shortages across a multitude of health disciplines.”