Dissatisfaction with A&E at six-year high

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As waiting times at accident and emergency departments increase, dissatisfaction with the service also increases.

A new survey has found that the dissatisfaction levels of A&E patients have risen to a six-year high. The King’s Fund found that almost half of people showed dissatisfaction with how A&E units were being managed in England as they were regularly forced to wait for long periods of time.

Around 53% of those questioned showed satisfaction with the service. This level is the lowest for this specific survey since 2008 and is due to the increase in waiting times.

There has been an increase in the number of hospitals that breach the 95% target of patients being seen within four hours in A&E. Other data from this survey indicated that 38% of hospitals reported that they had breached the target during the last three months of 2012/2013, compared with 17% during the same period in 2011/2012.

This survey has shown that A&E is the service that shows the lowest rates of satisfaction.

The overall satisfaction level is stable with about 60% declaring satisfaction, but this is a drop from the 70% during 2010. Satisfaction levels with outpatient services have increased to a record high of 67%, with satisfaction levels with inpatient services increasing to 58%.

The survey showed that satisfaction with dentist and GP services remained unchanged at 57% and 74% respectively.

The NHS may have received reports of high satisfaction, but social care service satisfactions remains low. Around 29% of the respondents stated that they were quite or very satisfied with social care and an equal number stated that they were dissatisfied with the service.

The Chief Economist at The King’s Fund, John Appleby, stated that the British Social Attitudes survey is an important measurement tool of how the public feels about the NHS. He said that satisfaction levels have remained high, but A&E satisfaction levels have declined and this may be due to the waiting times.

A Department of Health spokesman offered a similar report to John Appleby, but stated that the majority of A&E patients spend less than four hours waiting and this standard has been met during the past year, despite the high demand for services.

He said that the department is fully aware of the need to relieve pressure on A&E over the long term. This is the precise reason why the department is trying to strengthen the link between GPs and elderly patients. The department is also investing more funds into out of hospital care.

Image Credit: Christopher Paul

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