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A&E 'most unpopular NHS service' among public


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”

John Appleby

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.

King's Fund chief economist on health policy John Appleby

John Appleby

“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”

Andy Burnham

“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.”



Readers' comments (3)

  • I work in A&E and constantly sick of patient's unrealistic expectations of the service and then complain about the waiting time because the waiting room is full of people who don't need to be there!
    It is to provide EMERGENCY CARE to preserve life or limb NOT:
    "As a second opinion"
    "wanting a check-up before going on holiday"
    "can't get appointment to see GP" (but when ringing the surgery are told the patient hasn't rung for an appointment)
    "can't wait for my GP referral to OPD speciality, can't A&E admit me instead or get my appointment sooner?"
    Never mind public find A&E least popular NHS service, what about those staff that work in the departments under constant pressure to hit targets/been sworn at/shouted at/hit and face constant barrage of criticism when trying to do their best with limited resources?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous | 27-May-2014 6:03 pm

    unless patients are provided with alternaitve good services this pattern is likely to continue.

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  • sorry, no facilities for correcting my typing error above.

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