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Public satisfaction with the NHS has dropped to the lowest level on record, according to findings from a long-running poll.

Just 24% of people said they were satisfied with the health service in 2023, with poor access to GPs and long wait times for hospital treatment the main reasons for dissatisfaction.

More than 3,000 people across England, Scotland and Wales were surveyed for the British Social Attitudes poll, which is seen as a reliable barometer for how people feel about the NHS.

Satisfaction levels were down five percentage points from the year before – falling to the lowest level since records began in 1983.

From A&E to dentistry, satisfaction with every service is at or near historic lows. Results for social care were even worse, where just 13% were happy.

When asked what the most important priorities for the NHS should be, 52% said making it easier to get a GP appointment and 51% said increasing staff numbers.

Improving waiting times in A&E and for planned operations closely followed – chosen by 47% and 45% of people respectively.

Crucially however, support for the founding principles behind the NHS – free at the point of use, available to everyone and primarily funded through taxes – has remained constant.

This indicates the public do not want a change to the NHS – they just want the model they have got to work, a report analysing the poll said.

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Public fiercely loyal to NHS principles

The headline makes grim reading for the NHS – but not for NHS staff.

There’s a clear distinction between the two.

Respondents to the survey are clearly dissatisfied with long waiting times.

That frustration is totally understandable.

But what they make clear is that they fully support NHS staff who they feel are doing a good job under extremely difficult circumstances.

They are also fiercely loyal to the institution itself and do not want its founding principle to change: free for all from cradle to grave.

They want see more funding for the health service and extra staff – and some are willing to see the extra money needed to come from more tax.

But politicians gearing up for an election will know that bringing the NHS up to the levels that recorded high satisfaction more than 10 years ago will require record investment.

‘Continual state of crisis’

Satisfaction with the NHS peaked 14 years ago in 2010, when 70% of people were satisfied with the health service. But since 2020, levels have dropped by 29 percentage points.

“A decade of squeezed funding and chronic workforce shortages followed by a global pandemic has left the NHS in a continual state of crisis,” the report said.

When it comes to funding a whopping 84% of people polled said they thought the NHS had a severe problem, with 48% voting that ministers should increase taxes and spend more on the health service.

It was people with the most monthly income that were more likely to choose “increase taxes and spend more on the NHS” than keep taxes the same or reduce them.

Dan Wellings, a senior fellow at the King’s Fund – which sponsors health and care questions in the poll – said political leaders should “take note” of how far satisfaction levels have fallen ahead of the upcoming general election.

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Professor Pat Cullen, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, added that any party wanting to be in Downing Street in a year “must demonstrate clear intent” of investing in nursing to improve pay conditions and stabilise the workforce.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said it was “fully committed” to a “faster, simpler and fairer NHS” and has seen “good progress” in cutting waiting lists in England.

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“We are providing the NHS with record funding of nearly £165bn a year by the end of this Parliament, an increase of 13% in real terms compared to 2019,” they said.

“Overall NHS waiting lists have decreased for the fourth month in a row and we’ve delivered on our commitment to provide an extra 50 million GP appointments months ahead of schedule.”

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Five people arrested after police discover ‘human remains of young baby’ in Wigan

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Five people arrested after police discover 'human remains of young baby' in Wigan

Five people have been arrested after police discovered what they believe to be human remains of a young baby.

Officers said those detained, aged between 20-70, were held on suspicion of concealing a death and unlawful burial.

They have all been bailed pending further enquiries.

The investigation, prompted by welfare concerns, is focused on an address in Marsh Green, Wigan, and a location on Valley Road in Pemberton.

Chief Superintendent Clare Jenkins from Greater Manchester Police’s Wigan district said: “This is a truly heartbreaking discovery, and I do not underestimate the impact that this news will have on the local community.”

An address in Marsh Green, Wigan
Image:
An address in Marsh Green, Wigan

Addressing the local community, she said: “I would like to reassure you that we have several teams of officers and specialist resources working diligently to find answers.

“You will likely notice an increased presence of our officers throughout the next week, if you have any concerns or want to share any confidential information, please do not hesitate to speak to them.”

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She added: “In the coming days we will know more about the circumstances surrounding this incident, but we are confident that this is isolated, and there is no threat to the wider public.”

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Liz Truss was ‘ecstatic’ with mini-budget plan and claims Number 10 infested with fleas in new memoir

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Liz Truss was 'ecstatic' with mini-budget plan and claims Number 10 infested with fleas in new memoir

Liz Truss has revealed she considered abolishing the UK’s economic watchdog and replacing leaders at the Treasury and Bank of England, accusing the bodies of being “pro-China” and “pro-Remain”.

The country’s shortest serving prime minister said she discussed scrapping the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) with her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng but concluded it would have “amounted to a declaration of war on the economic establishment”.

In an extract from her memoir published by the Daily Mail, Ms Truss says the OBR, Treasury, and Bank of England “were more interested in balancing the books than growing the economy” and saw immigration “as a way of fixing the public finances”.

Defending her September 2022 mini-budget – which led to a surge in borrowing costs and saw the pound slump to a 37-year low against the dollar – the former prime minister said she would “accept that the communications around the mini-budget were not as good as they could have been”.

However, she said the afternoon after which Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng outlined the growth plan was “probably my happiest moment as prime minister” adding “I was ecstatic”.

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Truss’ time as PM

Mr Kwarteng was sacked three weeks later amid rising mortgage costs, before most measures in the statement were axed in an attempt to stabilise financial markets.

Kwasi Kwarteng
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Kwasi Kwarteng was also sacked following the mini-budget. Pic: PA

The serialisation also includes behind-the-scenes details of domestic life as a senior government figure.

More on Liz Truss

While foreign secretary, Ms Truss says she was forced to share the grace-and-favour Chevening mansion in Kent with her predecessor Dominic Raab and would find “protein shakes labelled ‘Raab’ in the fridge”.

Anecdotes, complaints and lamentations – but a lack of self-awareness


Rob Powell Political reporter

Rob Powell

Political correspondent

@robpowellnews

Given Liz Truss is the shortest-serving prime minister in UK history and given she oversaw an economic meltdown and was forced to fire her own Chancellor and repeal most of her policy offering, the extracts of her memoirs are strikingly bereft of any self-criticism or self-awareness.

As the political blogger Sam Freeman has pointed, bits of the book feel like a ‘what I did on my holidays school essay’.

There’s amusing and eminently readable anecdotes about trying to get Ocado shops delivered to Downing Street, taking her children into the government nuclear bunker, and finding Dominic Raab’s protein shakes in the fridge at the foreign secretary’s country residence.

There’s also some complaining.

The former Prime Minister laments having to book her own hair and make up and says a lack of medical support meant her private secretary had to get her cough medicine in the middle of the night.

She says living in Downing Street was “intensely claustrophobic” and she was “effectively a prisoner”.

It’s an open question whether that stirs much sympathy with those who saw their mortgage rates soar during her chaotic 50 days in office.

Then there’s the now familiar defence of her economic strategy, which once again seems to consist of blaming everyone bar herself.

In four pages of text, I spotted just two flashes of introspection.

She acknowledges that the “communications around the mini-budget were not as good as they could have been”. But then neuters that mea culpa by adding: “But I have to ask: what would we have been waiting for?”

She also says the late Queen had told her to “pace yourself”, before adding “maybe I should have listened”.

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The Norfolk MP is also critical of the levels of personal support offered to UK prime ministers saying “despite now being one of the most photographed people in the country, I had to organise my own hair and make-up appointments”.

She described the prime ministerial flat above the Number 10 offices as infested with fleas that some claimed came from her predecessor Boris Johnson’s dog Dilyn.

Ms Truss also revealed she and her husband had ordered new furniture for the residence “but were evicted before it could be delivered”.

The death of the Queen is also described in the extracts, with Ms Truss saying the fact it happened on her second full day as prime minister left her in a “state of shock” and thinking “Why me? Why now?”.

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Grand National | Updates from big race

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