Do you think the NHS is great? Think again...

Last year I published an article on this website about the National Health Service (NHS). In my opinion the NHS has got some very serious customer service problems that need to be addressed urgently. Although lack of funding is partly to blame, simply throwing money at the problem will not solve the more deep-rooted issues of poor management and the way that some people in the NHS (in management roles and also in medical roles) treat their ‘customers’ with arrogance and disdain.
Just before Christmas I had to contend with some appalling (and potentially even illegal) experiences with the NHS in Lincolnshire leading up to the death of my mother. The whole thing is still too raw and too upsetting to write about at the moment. But one day I am going to put my experiences down in writing, either in this blog, or in another publication.
One thing that angers me greatly is the way that some na├»ve members of the British public have an unquestioning and obsequious attitude towards the NHS, believing that anyone who works for the service is somehow superhuman and beyond reproach. I have seen plenty of evidence over the last decade that some people who work in the NHS (and I don’t just mean the pen-pushers) deserve to be fired immediately - and never allowed anywhere near a hospital again!
So it didn’t surprise me at all when I read today that public satisfaction with some NHS services has fallen to its lowest level since records began in 1983.
For example, satisfaction with GPs dropped by 7% to 65% in the survey, making it the first time ever that GP services have not been the highest-rated part of the NHS.
But aside from GP services, public satisfaction with the NHS generally fell by 6% since 2016. Only 57% of people said they were happy with the service (the lowest level since 2011) while dissatisfaction has risen to 29% - the highest level of dissatisfaction in a decade.
Common reasons given for dissatisfaction with the NHS were staff shortages, long waiting times, lack of funding and government reforms - amongst many more! According to Ruth Robertson, fellow at the King's Fund "The public used to put GPs on a pedestal. But since 2009, when there was an 80% satisfaction rating, it has been steadily declining. It shows the impact of the huge pressure on GPs and the public is responding to that."
But Ms Robertson was also keen to stress that the NHS was still highly valued by the public: "More people are satisfied with the NHS than are dissatisfied. They showed really strong support for the core value principles of the NHS. I think this shows that it is not falling out of favour, but people are worried about the NHS and they are worried about funding and staffing shortages."
The age group which say they were most satisfied with GPs was people aged over 65 and Ms Robertson added: "This is because they see GPs more often so build up a stronger personal relationship with them."
Professor John Appleby, Chief Economist and Director of research at the Nuffield Trust said: "These results should make the government sit up and take notice. If they want to see satisfaction rise, my suggestion is they should think seriously now about more money for healthcare over the next few years.”
"We know that people are increasingly dissatisfied with their access to getting GP appointments and so on, so there is clearly something to be done. It's not just about money to fix these problems but these are the things that the public notice and they care about, so it's something that the government should also notice and care about."
What do GPs say about this?
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs said: "This is extremely distressing news for hard-pressed GPs and their teams who are working flat out to do the very best they can for their patients in increasingly difficult circumstances. But while we are very disappointed in these figures, they are hardly surprising as what we are seeing now is symptomatic of the inevitable effects of a decade of underinvestment in our family doctor service - and just not having enough GPs in the system to meet demand.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: "Just last year, the NHS was rated as the best and safest health system in the world by independent experts and, as this report itself points out, the majority of patients are satisfied with the NHS."

The survey was conducted by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) and analysed by the Nuffield Trust and the King's Fund. A nationally representative sample of 3,004 people in England, Scotland and Wales were asked about their overall satisfaction with the NHS and 1,002 of them were also questioned about their satisfaction with individual NHS services.

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