"The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it"
Aneurin Bevan

Monday, 16 May 2011

Observation on NHS satisfaction survey

Every six months the Department of Health commissions Ipsos MORI to conduct a survey on the public perception of the NHS. The latest survey is from December 2010. This was at the end of the public consultation period of the White Paper and before the Bill was published. It was clear to those who followed health policy that there was a lot of opposition to details in the White Paper, but since the Bill had not been published it was not clear whether the Government would take such opposition into account (they didn't).

The survey summary starts by saying:
Public satisfaction with the NHS remains high (70%) but is drifting downwards. Most of the fall is due to non-users becoming more critical – perhaps in response to media coverage, as they have no direct recent experience. In contrast, users of the service remain very positive (73% satisfaction rating versus 61% of non-users).
The media attention is important. Cameron and Lansley knew that public satisfaction with the NHS was high and consequently it would be difficult to persuade the public that changes must be made. The result was a long stream of press releases telling the public how "bad" the NHS is. People who use the NHS knew from their own experience that this was not the case, but such press releases did have an effect on the people who do not use the NHS. In particular, I suspect those that use the NHS are grateful for an effective service, but those who do not use it resent paying for it, particularly as we go into a period of austerity with the relentless (and untrue) message from the Government that the NHS is "protected" whereas other areas of government spending is not.

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