Accident and emergency is the most unpopular NHS service, suggests a new poll by a leading health think-tank.
Public satisfaction with A&E services dipped to a five-year low, the survey found.
Just over half (53%) of people said they were satisfied with the A&E services in 2013 − the lowest level since 2008, according to data from the British Social Attitudes survey.
This compares with 2012, when the survey found 59% of the public were content with A&E services.
“Public satisfaction in the NHS remains high, although satisfaction with A&E has dropped”
The King’s Fund, which publishes the survey, said the dip in confidence came after the well-publicised breaches of the four-hour A&E waiting time target last year.
In contrast, satisfaction with hospital outpatient services climbed to a record high of 67%, a spokeswoman said.
The figures, taken from research involving more than 1,000 participants, also show that overall public satisfaction with the NHS remains unchanged, with 60% saying they were pleased with the health service.
“Since 1983 the British Social Attitudes survey has provided an important barometer of how the public views the NHS,” said John Appleby, chief economist at the King’s Fund.
“Public satisfaction in the NHS remains high, although satisfaction with A&E has dropped. This may be due to concerns about waiting times in 2013.”
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “As this report recognises, public satisfaction in the NHS is high and at record levels for outpatient services.
“The vast majority of patients spend under four hours in A&E and the NHS has met this standard for the past year despite unprecedented demand,” she said.
“A&E is the barometer of the whole system”
“We know we need to relieve pressure on A&E in the long term which is why we’re strengthening the link between GPs and elderly patients and investing more in out-of-hospital care.”
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: “People can see that the NHS is heading downhill under this government. It has got harder to get a GP appointment and A&Es are struggling to deal with the extra pressure.
“A&E is the barometer of the whole health and care system. It is warning of severe storm ahead unless the government changes course.”