Public satisfaction with GP services – historically the service with the highest levels of public satisfaction – has fallen by an unprecedented 30 percentage points since 2019 to 38%, the lowest level since the survey began in 1983.
For the first time the number of people dissatisfied with GP services (42%) is higher than those who are satisfied.
Satisfaction with the NHS as a whole has also fallen to its lowest level since 1997, according to analysis of the 2021 British Social Attitudes survey (BSA) published by The King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust.
The survey found that public satisfaction with the NHS has fallen to 36% – an unprecedented drop of 17 percentage points from 2020 and the lowest level of satisfaction recorded since 1997.
The survey found that one of the most important priorities wanted by respondents was ‘making it easier to get a GP appointment’. But despite public perception that this is difficult, more than 25.4 million appointments were delivered in February, far more than in the same month in the previous two years, and three out of five of these appointments were face-to-face.
RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall said: ‘We are extremely disappointed and saddened by these findings, which reflect a service working under crippling staffing and resource pressures following the pandemic, which has pushed general practice, and the wider NHS, to its limits.’
He added that general practice had been at the forefront of delivering safe and appropriate care throughout the pandemic, when many other parts of the NHS had to severely limit access or shut down, and in leading the COVID-19 mass vaccination programmes.
Professor Marshall said: ‘GPs and patients want the same thing, and we share patients’ concerns about the difficulties they face in accessing GP appointments. It is vital that today’s report is not used as another opportunity to denigrate and demoralise hardworking GP teams, but that these findings serve as a wake-up call to Government and policy makers on the need for urgent action to boost the GP workforce so that there are enough GPs and practice team members to deliver safe, timely and appropriate care to all patients.
‘General practice must be supported not only to provide good access to services, but personalised care for patients, which is becoming increasingly difficult to deliver.’