Satisfaction with the NHS has increased, with 65% saying they are satisfied, up from 60% in 2013. This increase in satisfaction was greatest – no less than 11 percentage points – among Labour supporters.
Satisfaction with A&E services has also increased, from 53% to 58%. On the other hand, satisfaction with GP services has declined from 77% in 2010 to 71% in 2014, though this is still the most popular of the NHS services.
A funding crisis?
The public believe, almost universally (92%), that the NHS is facing a funding problem. But how should this problem be addressed?
A majority (58%) say they would not be happy for the government to curb spending in other areas to maintain the current NHS service. Support for increasing taxes to spend more on health, education and social benefits still remains relatively low (37%). Only around a quarter back charging for services such as a GP appointment or hospital meals.
Alternatives to universal NHS care?
Most people are opposed to the idea of a system only for those on lower incomes, while only a minority would prefer to be treated by a private service.
Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) oppose the idea that the NHS should be available only to those on lower incomes. However, 45% think that the NHS will not still be a free universal service in ten years’ time. More (39%) say they would prefer to be treated by a NHS service than a private one (16%) though 43% have no preference.
This is an important set of results for the health and care sector and shows that the public continues to value the NHS very highly. Public perception on NHS funding, staffing and wait times are however driving lower satisfaction. What the public and health service now needs is a strong clear narrative from politicians of all parties on the future of the NHS.
The most important set of results are those on social care. We have said consistently that the NHS and social care system cannot be seen in isolation from each other. A further fall in satisfaction of 5 percentage points to just 26 per cent is deeply concerning. This reflects the pressure social care services are facing and these must be addressed if we are to sustain effective care for vulnerable people. Current resourcing levels in social care will, we believe, be insufficient in the short term to make this a reality.
Rob Webster, Chief Executive, NHS Confederation