Tuesday, June 12, 2012

National Health Service - national satisfaction?

A new survey has shown that public satisfaction with the running of the NHS saw something of a marked drop between 2010 and 2011.

The survey, which was carried out by health charity The King's Fund, indicates that the public's satisfaction levels have dropped from their 2010 percentage of 70 down to 58%. The charity says that this is the biggest one-year drop since the yearly survey first began back in 1983. 

While the figures  are bound to cause concern within the coalition, the charity does point out that the current level of 58% satisfaction is in fact still towards the higher end of the scale, even if this is a record fall. It's also pointed out that given the standard of care offered by the NHS the public's expectations from the service are possibly higher than they would have been two decades ago or more.

Reasons for the fall in satisfaction levels could be down to a combination of factors - changes to the service arising from reforms within the NHS could be a factor, while all the controversy surrounding them in the press could also have an effect on public opinion. It's worth pointing out that the survey took in a sample of the general public as opposed to a specific group who had recently used the service - so in a way it's a poll of opinion and perception rather than simply a set of marks for treatment received. Of course, that's not to say that many surveyed would themselves have been recently in receipt of NHS treatment. 

The King's Fund blog points out that "interpreting satisfaction polls can be difficult" but concedes that "the overall picture is disappointing", and shoes an overall picture of "discontent and worry". The blog accompanying the news of the survey also makes the point that important satisfaction points such as waiting times haven't actually changed all that much -although for the coalition this must surely be a very definite sign from the public that not only is there uncertainty generally, but that specifics like waiting times, if they were to increase, would have an effect on future survey results.

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