The attitude and behaviour of health service staff is among the five key reasons maintaining high levels of public satisfaction with the NHS.
A major national survey, published today, revealed that the quality of NHS care, as well as the attitude and behaviour of staff, were among the main reasons people were satisfied with NHS.
In addition, factors like the NHS being free at the point of use, the range of services and treatments available and easy access to appointments were in the top five most popular reasons given.
Researchers from the annual NatCen’s British Social Attitudes survey interviewed over 4,000 randomly selected people about their views on the NHS, politics, work, welfare and social class.
They found that less than a quarter, 23%, of people were “dissatisfied” with the NHS, a similar figure to previous years. In contrast, 60% said they were “satisfied” and 16% answered “neither”.
Although the researchers could not find a link between people’s attitudes and their age or income, they did find that their politic outlook may partially explain their views on the NHS.
Those people who expressed the highest dissatisfaction with the NHS were supporters of UK Independence Party – better known as UKIP – while the lowest levels described themselves as Conservative Party supporters.
The survey also revealed that the public were concerned about NHS funding. Nearly a third, 32%, said the NHS was facing a “severe” funding problem, significantly higher than the 19% recorded in 2014.
Study author John Appleby, chief economist at the King’s Fund, said that the public were virtually unanimous in its view that the NHS is facing a funding crisis.
King’s Fund chief economist on health policy John Appleby
“Despite satisfaction with the NHS being high by historical standards, it has remained fairly flat over the last few years,” he said.
“But with five more years of planned funding restraint, it remains to be seen how attitudes towards the NHS and the public’s willingness to accept solutions to the funding problems will develop,” he added.
However, there is little agreement on how the funding problem could be resolved. The most popular solution, supported by 42% of the public, was to pay more through taxation but over a quarter, 26%, of people said that the NHS should find ways to live within its budget.
Only 15% of those surveyed were willing to pay £10 to visit their GP or local A&E department and just over a quarter, 26% of people wanted NHS services to be reserved for those on lower incomes.
In their report, the study authors suggested that to boost satisfaction even further the government should spend more money on the NHS, and that it should be universal and free at the point of use.
“The main message seems to be that the government should spend more money on the NHS – to increase capacity in general practice and the hospital sector in order to reduce waiting times, and to employ more staff,” said the report.