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Public satisfaction rates with NHS on the up again

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Public satisfaction with the NHS stabilised last year after a record fall in 2011, suggesting concerns about the spending squeeze and the government’s reforms may have levelled off.

The British Social Attitudes survey data, published by The King’s Fund, shows that satisfaction with the way the NHS runs now stands at 61% - the third highest level since poll began in 1983.

It follows a record contraction in satisfaction from 70% in 2010 to 58% in 2011, which coincided with the first year in a four year NHS spending squeeze and sustained media coverage about the government’s reforms.

Satisfaction with A&E services experienced a significant increase last year, jumping from 54% to 59%. Outpatient services and inpatient services, meanwhile, showed no real change from 2011, at 64% and 52% respectively.

In comparison to the high levels of satisfaction with the NHS, satisfaction with social care services was much lower, at only 30%.

On the other hand, satisfaction was 74% for GP services and 56% for dentists - the same as 2011.

Commenting on the findings, John Appleby, chief economist at The King’s Fund, said: “With no real change in satisfaction with the NHS in 2012, this suggests the record fall in 2011 was not a blip and that the ground lost may take some time to recover.”

Satisfaction was consistent across the political spectrum last year - something which is not usually the case - standing at 64% among Conservative and Labour supporters, and 63% among Liberal Democrats.

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