In response to a Guardian health article that announced public satisfaction with the NHS is at its lowest level for a decade, Medical Negligence Solicitor, Natasha Perkins believes that patient anger is directed at central government and not at NHS staff.
Natasha said: “From my experience of dealing with clients who have been let down by the NHS, and with being an NHS patient myself, the main dissatisfaction with the service is waiting times, lack of face to face contact and feeling like a number rather than a patient.
“Ultimately this comes down to a lack of resources.”
Despite the Prime Minister, Theresa May announcing a £20.5bn-a-year NHS funding boost earlier this year backed by a wilful PR effort building up to the health service’s 70th birthday, barely half of patients that were surveyed (53%) said they are happy with how the NHS is run – the lowest percentage since 2007.
Natasha believes that in the midst of patient dissatisfaction, confidence in the health service is arguably most brittle within local communities.
The survey shows that telephone triage is now commonplace, and something that was once as simple as being able to see the same GP consistently is becoming more and more difficult.
Natasha said: “The personal touch of having a family doctor who you see every time you have an ailment is long forgotten.
“That same family doctor will now have thousands of patients, work long hours and have an extremely tight budget to work from.
“There is now more focus on consulting your pharmacist or using NHS 111. As a professional, I see this as an innovative way of dealing with patients when resources are dry, however this will inevitably have an effect on a patient’s satisfaction.”
Patient and NHS disparity doesn’t end in GP surgeries, with frustration towards longer accident and emergency waiting times increasing widespread disillusionment.
“There are patients who turn up to their outpatient appointments and have to wait hours because there aren’t enough consultants.
“There are then patients who have to wait months and months for surgery that isn’t technically classed as ‘emergency’, but it is an emergency to them.
“Then there are patients who have to wait weeks before being moved to a ward or unit because there aren’t enough beds.”
Natasha concluded that although it is refreshing that Theresa May has pledged a £20bn-a-year funding boost, it would be narrow minded to think this would change things overnight.
“The NHS has been starved of funding for years and has been promised additional funding in the past (let’s not forget the famous Brexit ‘Leave’ pledge). To expect patient satisfaction to increase suddenly because of that is extremely naïve.
“I very much look forward to seeing the positive changes that this additional funding will bring however they are changes that will take time.”