NHS patient satisfaction plummets due to long treatment waits and lack of staff

The 2021 British Social Attitudes survey found that patient satisfaction has been plummeting due to long waiting times, NHS staff shortages and lack of Government funding

NHS patient satisfaction has plummeted

Long treatment waits and lack of NHS staff have seen patient satisfaction plummet by the most ever recorded.

The 2021 British Social Attitudes survey (BSA) showed an unprecedented drop of satisfaction in the NHS by 17% in the last 12 months, leaving it at the lowest level since 1997.

Just 36% answered that they were satisfied with how the health service was being run.

The top reasons were concerned about long waiting times at 65%, NHS staff shortages at 46% and lack of Government funding at 40%.

The survey, published today by The King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust, has been carried out since 1983.

Dan Wellings, Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund said: “It’s the scale of the drop that’s unprecedented.

“When you listen to the stories that are coming in you realize what’s behind it. They see the problem we’re facing is there isn’t enough staff.

Lack of NHS staff has been mentioned as one of the reasons (Stock photo)



“These issues have been exacerbated by the extraordinary events of the past two years but have been many years in the making following a decade-long funding squeeze and a workforce crisis that has been left unaddressed for far too long.

“By the time we were in the field we almost have six million people on the waiting list in England – now that’s four in 10 of the population who are on the waiting list or have a family member who is.”

The survey was conducted by the National Center for Social Research (NatCen) last September and October and is seen as the gold standard measure of public attitudes.

Overall more people are now dissatisfied with the NHS than satisfied at 41%.

Public satisfaction with GP services – historically the service with the highest levels – has fallen by an unprecedented 30% since 2019 down to 38%.

For the first time the number of people dissatisfied with GP services at 42% is higher than those who are satisfied.

Satisfaction with other services was also at record low levels at 33% for dentistry, 49% for A&Es and 49% for hospital outpatient care.

More than half of respondents said they were dissatisfied with social care.

Prof John Appleby, Director at the Nuffield Trust, said: “This is actually quite shocking.

“The fall in satisfaction is widespread across all age groups and income groups, with political party support having no bearing.

“Against a backdrop of record waiting lists for surgery, disruption to services and difficulties getting appointments with a GP, people are concerned about what the NHS can deliver.

“We know that the NHS and social care services face a long and difficult journey to recover performance, and now public satisfaction is rapidly falling too.”

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting


AFP via Getty Images)

The results will be a major headache for the Tories as the NHS is likely to be a key issue at the next General Election.

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting said “the public have clearly lost confidence in the Conservatives’ ability to run our health service”

He added: “Only Labor will provide the staff, equipment and modern technology needed to make the NHS fit for the future.

“The longer we give the Conservatives, the longer patients will wait.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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