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Feature Databriefing

How satisfied are we with the NHS?

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 22 March 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1836
  1. John Appleby, chief economist
  1. 1King’s Fund, London W1G 0AN, UK
  1. j.appleby{at}

More members of the British public than ever believe that the NHS is doing a good job, according to data analysed here by John Appleby. Which raises the question of why the government finds it lacking and is pushing for urgent change?

The NHS may be, in the words of Nigel Lawson, “the closest thing the English have to a religion” (adding for good measure, “with those who practice in it regarding themselves as a priesthood”1), but are we satisfied with it (and the priesthood)?

The longest running survey of public satisfaction with the NHS is the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey.2 The first survey was conducted in 1983. With the exception of three years, it has, among a host of questions about the public’s attitudes to everything from litter to crime, a continuous …

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