Public attitudes to the NHS and social care

A 2023 study on the British public's satisfaction with the NHS and social care services, and their views on NHS priorities, principles and funding.
People in a surgery waiting room UK
  • Publishing date:
    27 March 2024

About the study

This report draws upon responses to the latest British Social Attitudes survey to explore public satisfaction with the NHS and social care. In addition to providing detailed insight into the state of public attitudes in 2023, the report assesses how views towards the NHS and social care have changed over time. The report also examines public opinion on NHS priorities and funding in the context of prominent national debate about taxation and healthcare spending. 


  • Satisfaction with the NHS is at the lowest level recorded since BSA began in 1983 across every service and within all demographics and socio-economic groups. 
  • In 2023, fewer than 1 in 4 (24% of people) were satisfied with the NHS, a drop of 29 percentage points since 2020 which represents an unprecedented drop in public satisfaction with the NHS. 
  • The main reasons for dissatisfaction were waiting times for GP and hospital appointments (71%), staff shortages (54%), and insufficient government spending (47%). Satisfaction with GP services and NHS dentistry saw the greatest declines, falling to record lows of 34% and 24%, while inpatient and outpatient were the highest-rated NHS services. 
  • 84% of respondents believed that the NHS has a major or severe funding problem. 
  • When asked about government choices on tax and NHS spending, most respondents chose to increase taxes and spend more on the NHS (48%). 
  • The most important priorities cited by respondents for the NHS were 'making it easier to get a GP appointment' (52%) and 'increasing the number of staff in the NHS' (51%). 
  • Satisfaction with social care meanwhile sits at 13%. 
  • Dissatisfaction with social care is greater than that with the NHS overall or with any of the individual NHS services in question. This dissatisfaction was primarily attributed to inadequate pay, working conditions and training for workers (57%), closely followed by people not receiving all the social care they need (56%) and insufficient support for unpaid carers (49%). 


The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen)'s British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey has been conducted annually since 1983. Each year, the survey asks people what it's like to live in Britain and what they think about how Britain is run. 

The most recent survey was carried out between 12 September and 31 October 2023, where a nationally representative sample (across England, Scotland and Wales) of 3,374 people were asked about their satisfaction with the NHS and social care services. 

This report was drawn from time series analysis based on these questions in the 2023 and previous BSA data, as well as an additional new question on taxation and NHS funding.