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Public satisfaction in the NHS falls to lowest level in 25 years, survey reveals

PUBLIC satisfaction with the NHS has fallen to its lowest level in 25 years, a new survey reveals, prompting campaigners to blame Tory austerity.

The British Social Attitudes Survey (BSA), published today by the King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust, shows that staff shortages, long waiting times and poor government funding were the top reasons given for the sharp decline in satisfaction with the health service. 

However, public support for its founding principles — free universal care, paid for largely through taxation — is stronger than ever, the research found. 

The survey, carried out by the National Centre for Social Research in 2021, saw public satisfaction in how the NHS is fall drop last year by an unprecedented 36 per cent to its lowest level since 1997.

The findings means that people dissatisfied with the NHS now outnumber those who are satisfied. 

King’s Fund senior fellow Dan Wellings said problems in the NHS have been exacerbated by the pandemic, but they “have been many years in the making, following a decade-long funding squeeze and a workforce crisis that has been left unaddressed for far too long.”

For the first time, one of the founding principles of the NHS — that it should be free of charge when you need it — was the top reason given for why people were satisfied with the NHS. 

“The public do not seem to want a different model, they just want the one they have got to work,” Mr Wellings added. 

Keep Our NHS Public co-chairman Dr John Puntis commented that the findings were unsurprising. 

“The lesson from these surveys is that leaders should listen to what the public want and invest in NHS staff and services to a level that can provide first-class care for all.”

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