The British Social Attitudes Survey has revealed that only 60% of NHS users are satisfied with the service offered by the NHS today; representing a 10% increase in the number of unhappy patients in 2014. The results coincide with an increase in the number of clinical negligence claims being brought against the NHS, and an increase in media coverage of the problems plaguing the health service.
The top three reasons given in the survey for this high of level dissatisfaction are, waiting times for GP and hospital appointments, insufficient staffing levels and insufficient funds being available to the NHS. Quality of care, wastage and lack of services have also been cited as reasons, amongst others.
Conversely, patients who were satisfied with the NHS praised the service offered by GP, with hospital outpatient services also receiving a good response. Social care was the overall poor performer, with only just 30% of patients being satisfied with those services, which include care homes and other local authority provision.
The think tank King’s Fund was involved in the survey and its Chief Executive Chris Ham has said
What’s gone wrong is the public’s perception of the NHS under growing pressure. Money is tight, waiting times are getting longer, people are concerned that when they need the NHS it might not be there for them”
The Department of Health has recognised that there is pressure on the health service due to the increased and ageing population, which is why record amounts of money are being invested in the NHS. But the current rate of investment is clearly insufficient to deal with the problems highlighted by the survey.
Only through an increase in doctors, nurses and technology can waiting times be reduced and pressure taken away from staff so that they can spend more time with patients and offer a more caring service. But even if this can be achieved the government has a long way to go to restore our faith in the NHS and turn negative headlines and patient experiences on their heads. There are lots of things that the NHS can be praised for (read our earlier blog) and perhaps for the benefit of patients and staff alike, it’s time to focus on the good that the NHS currently has to offer as well as the bad, before faith in its service is lost forever.