Public less satisfied with family doctors

GP surgery
GP surgery

Public satisfaction with GP services has dropped to the lowest level since the 1980s, a survey has found.

The latest British Social Attitudes survey found that satisfaction with family doctor services – usually seen as the “jewel in the crown” of the NHS – has fallen to its lowest level in 35 years.

The survey, which has been tracking public opinion of the NHS since 1983, also found public dissatisfaction with the overall NHS is on the rise. Analysis from the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen Social Research) found that, as the health service celebrates its 70th birthday, 57 per cent of people said they were satisfied with the NHS – the lowest level since 2011.

Meanwhile, dissatisfaction in the NHS has risen to 29 per cent – the highest in a decade, according to the research published by health think tanks The Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund.

Reasons behind the drop in dissatisfaction with the NHS overall include long waiting times for GP or hospital appointments, the Government not spending enough money and not enough NHS staff, experts said.

The survey, which polled 3,000 people across England, Wales and Scotland, found that 65 per cent of people said they were satisfied with GP services, the lowest level since the survey began. It is now no longer the highest rated service and on par with outpatient services.

Ruth Robertson, fellow at The King’s Fund, said: “For the first time, general practice is no longer the highest rated service. I think it is showing the huge pressure on general practice and the public are responding to that.

“This is a service that people used to see as the jewel in the crown of the NHS and it is no longer the highest rated service. It is really in decline.”

But she added: “More people are satisfied with the NHS, and when we asked them why they showed really strong support for the core value principles of the NHS – being free at the point of use, the comprehensive range of services available.”