General practice ‘in decline’ as satisfaction drops to record lows

Public satisfaction with general practice has fallen to its lowest level since records began, according to the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey.

The annual survey, which started in 1983, revealed that satisfaction dropped by seven points last year to 65%. Meaning, that for the first time, general practice is not seen as the best NHS service. In 2009 its satisfactory rating was 80%.

The survey – of 3004 people in England, Scotland and Wales – was conducted by the National Centre for Social Research and was analysed by the think tanks Nuffield Trust and the King’s Fund. Reasons for the drop in satisfaction include staff shortages, waiting times, funding concerns and government reforms.

Ruth Robertson, fellow at the King’s Fund, said: ‘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.’

Speaking to the BBC, Prof John Appleby of 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.’

Ms Robertson said the results risked general practice’s reputation as the ‘jewel in the crown of the NHS’ and that ‘the data sends out an unmistakable message that general practice is in decline’.

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