Stats show record fall in NHS satisfaction – but ministers say it's at a high

 

Ministers clashed yesterday with health experts over whether public satisfaction with the NHS is holding up despite the harsh economic climate.

The King's Fund health policy think tank reports today the biggest ever drop in satisfaction, from 70 per cent in 2010 to 58 per cent in 2011, based on data from the British Social Attitudes Survey which has been used as a barometer of public opinion for almost 30 years.

But ministers countered with a Mori poll showing satisfaction remaining high at 70 per cent. Both polls had similar-sized samples of around 1,000 and were conducted at similar times last year, when controversy about the NHS reforms and budgetary pressures was at its height.

A ministerial source suggested a possible reason for the difference was that the King's Fund data came from a wider survey of social attitudes, and responses on the NHS may have been negatively influenced by other questions about the poorly performing economy. The Health Department's Mori poll, which has been run annually for 12 years, is a discrete survey, not subject to the same influences. But neither side was conceding ground yesterday in the war of the satisfaction statistics.

John Appleby, chief economist at the King's Fund, said satisfaction as measured by the BSAS had risen every year for almost a decade from 2001, the start of the biggest funding boom in the NHS's history, and the rise had to come to an end eventually. It was the scale of the fall that was unexpected.

NHS waiting lists had remained stable and hospital infections had continued to come down between 2010 and 2011 – two key measurers of performance about which patients got most worried – so they could not explain the decline in satisfaction. The fall was evident across all political parties, and among recent patients as well as those who had not made recent use of the NHS.

Ministers were in part to blame for increasing gloom about the NHS because of their habit of highlighting its failings. There were also concerns about the disruption caused by the Government's reforms, now being implemented following the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill, and the need to find £20bn of savings by 2015.

Professor Appleby said: "It may be that a combination of ministerial rhetoric to justify the reforms, concern about the reforms themselves and reaction to the funding squeeze combined to create worries about the NHS and dent the public perception it is being run well."

Simon Burns, the Health minister, countered that the right people to ask about the NHS were those who had recently used it. "The British Social Attitudes Survey targets the general public rather than people that have actually used the NHS, so responses are influenced by other factors," he said.

The latest survey of 70,000 NHS patients showed 92 per cent rated their treatment as good, very good or excellent.

"We want all patients to get excellent care from the NHS. The Care Quality Commission is carrying out the biggest ever programme of unannounced inspections. We are also introducing a friends-and-family test which will give detailed feedback on whether staff and patients think their hospital is providing good care," he said.

Suggested Topics
News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Maths Teacher

    £110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

    Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?