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March 2024

Public satisfaction with NHS at all-time low

Public satisfaction with the NHS has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded, according to analysis of the latest British Social Attitudes survey (BSA) published today by The King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust.  

For the first time in the 41-year history of the survey, less than a quarter of people are satisfied with the way the NHS is running. Satisfaction had previously peaked in 2010, when 7 out of 10 people reported being satisfied with the health service. 

The think tanks’ analysis reveals that public satisfaction with GP services – historically the service with the highest levels of public satisfaction – now stands at 34%, the lowest level recorded since the survey began. Since 2019, satisfaction with GP services has fallen by 34 percentage points.

Overall public satisfaction with how the NHS runs now stands at 24% – a fall of 5 percentage points from the previous year. Since 2020, satisfaction has fallen by 29 percentage points. Dissatisfaction is also at an all-time high, with more than half (52%) of respondents saying they were dissatisfied with the NHS.  

The survey, carried out by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) in September and October 2023, is seen as a gold-standard measure of public attitudes in Britain. 

Since the 2015 survey, a large majority of respondents have consistently expressed the view that the NHS has a major or severe funding problem, with 84% of respondents to the 2023 survey now sharing this view.  

In a new question introduced for the 2023 survey, nearly half (48%) of the public would support the government increasing taxes and spending more on the NHS. Those on the highest household incomes were more likely to choose this option.  

Despite record low levels of satisfaction with the NHS, public support for the founding principles of the NHS, which marked its 75th anniversary in 2023, is as strong as ever. The overwhelming majority of respondents expressed high levels of support for the principles when asked if they should still apply in 2023: that it is free of charge when you need it (91), primarily funded through taxation (82%) and available to everyone (82%). 

Practice Nurse 2024;54( 2): online only