Satisfaction with the NHS

The new Kings Fund study delves into overall public satisfaction with the NHS, but also the breakdown of opinion on areas such as geography, favoured political party, and experience of different NHS treatments.

1. Satisfaction with the NHS it at historically high levels – and actually rose in 2014

At 65%, this is the second best satisfaction rate for the NHS since 1983. Satisfaction was much lower in the 1990s and most of the 2000s. Dissatisfaction is at its lowest since 1983.

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2. Recent contact with the NHS usually makes little difference

Perhaps surprisingly, the graph below shows that for the last dozen years satisfaction among those who have stayed in hospital has closely tracked satisfaction among those with such direct experience. Even prior to 2003, the difference was not vast.

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3. There is currently little difference between supporters of the political parties on satisfaction with the NHS

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Historically, people tend to show somewhat more satisfaction with the NHS when their own party is in government, and less when it is in opposition. This was particularly true during the Major Government. But under the Coalition, Labour supporters are just as satisfied as Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

4. Whether you live in England, Scotland or Wales makes a big difference

Only half (51%) of Welsh people are satisfied with the NHS, compared to 75% of Scots. One in five (21%) Welsh are dissatisfied compared to only one in twelve (8%) of Scots.

On both measures, England is somewhere in between, with 65% satisfied and 16% dissatisfied.

With health devolved to the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly, four different political parties are now running three different healthcare systems. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats run the NHS in England, the SNP runs it in Scotland and Labour runs it in Wales.

5. The NHS is one of the big three biggest political issues for British voters

Although it was the top political issue for most of the Blair government, the economic crisis of 2008 saw the economy dramatically overtake immigration and health as the top issue for voters. But the last six years have seen a steady rise in public concern about the NHS, going from around 15% naming it as the most important issue to 30%. Three months before the 2015 General Election, all three issues now have approximately equal public attention.

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