Public 'feels safe' in NHS hospitals but some concern around waiting times

Patients rate NHS higher than non-users

Satisfaction rates remain high

Public satisfaction with the NHS remains high but is drifting downwards, according to a survey commissioned by the Department of Health.

While 70% of the 1,011 people surveyed in December said they were satisfied with the NHS and only 14% were dissatisfied, satisfaction rates among those that have not used the NHS recently are falling. This group recorded a 61% satisfaction rate, which may be the result of high levels of media coverage expressing concern about the Government's proposed reforms. Recent hospital users are also less satisfied with their last visit to an NHS hospital than in March 2010, with 83% now saying they are satisfied, compared to 89% previously.

Satisfaction rates are highest among pensioners and lowest (64%) among those aged 55 to 64 and those living in the South East (61%).

The survey suggests that the public has observed improvements in the running of the NHS in recent years. Overall, 70% of respondents agree that "If I was very ill I would feel safe in an NHS hospital", compared to 55% three years ago, and 52% believe that the NHS has MRSA and other hospital infections under control - a figure which stood at just 27% in December 2007.

However, there are less positive expectations for waiting times for non-emergency treatment and care than in previous surveys, with 39% believing that times are decreasing, compared to 35% who think they are not.

The Government is likely to celebrate the news that, for the first time in five years, more people expect the NHS to get better (34% compared to 25% in March 2010) than worse (32%). However, the survey suggests that the public is not very optimistic about the impact of the Government's proposed reforms. Less than one in five (17%) expect services to get better while 37% expect them to get worse. More than four in five (85%) people believe that NHS will face severe funding problem in future compared to 78% in March 2010.


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