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Mandy Kloppers

only 53.9% of Brits are happy with the UK’s health system

NHS at 75: just half of Brits are satisfied with our health system and 55% are unhappy with their own fitness

The NHS is celebrating its 75th anniversary. However, a new Government poll reveals only 53.9% of Brits are happy with the UK’s health system and 9% fewer people are satisfied with their own health than when the survey started in 2010.

UK’s health system

A new report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals Brits feel their general wellbeing has declined in recent years. As the NHS commemorates its 75th anniversary, the survey reveals only half of us are happy with the UK’s health care system and the percentage of UK adults who are mostly or completely satisfied with their health has declined 8.6% since the first such poll in 2010.

A leading health testing expert says that one of the most concerning issues is that there has also been a 5.9% increase since 2016 in the number of people reporting they are battling anxiety and depression.

Dr Avinash Hari Narayanan (MBChB), Clinical Lead at London Medical Laboratory, says: ‘It’s wonderful to celebrate the National Health Service’s 75th anniversary this month. For many years, it has been a model that has pointed the way for many other countries’ health care systems. However, this anniversary also marks a point of reflection, while we determine how healthcare in the UK should develop as it advances towards its centennial.

‘The NHS is currently facing a period of rising demand just as it struggles to attract sufficient staff and meet rising costs. These issues are reflected in the results of this new survey. In May and June 2023, only 53.9% of adults in Great Britain said they are satisfied with the UK’s healthcare system. We’ve no data from previous years to compare this with, as it’s the first time the ONS has asked this question, but this is surely a disappointing result for healthcare professionals and the Government.

‘The latest figures also reveal that only 44.7% of UK adults report being mostly or completely satisfied with their health. That’s a marked decline from 2019’s 48% and a significant 8.6% fall since the question was first asked in 2010. It means 55.3% of us are unhappy with our health – a concerning number.

‘It’s also disappointing that the latest data reveals 23.7% of UK adults report some evidence of depression or anxiety. That’s up from 17.8% in 2016, a near 6% rise, and demonstrates the urgent need for healthcare planning and investment to address this looming problem.

‘However, some figures in the survey may indicate Brits are taking an overly pessimistic view of our health and healthcare. In 2021, the Health Index score in England for people reporting having cancer, cardiovascular conditions, dementia, diabetes, kidney and liver disease, chronic musculoskeletal or respiratory conditions was 101.2.  That’s a distinct improvement on 2020, when the Health Index score was 100.0.

‘One of the most fascinating results in the survey is Brits’ healthy life expectancy. This is an estimate of the average number of years people are likely to live in a state of “good” general health. The latest figures show healthy life expectancy is estimated at 62.8 years for UK males and 63.6 years for UK females.

‘So what measures can be taken to ensure our NHS reaches a successful 100th anniversary? A swift resolution to the various pay disputes facing the NHS, together with a renewed emphasis on recruitment and retention, is clearly called for, together with community-level health care reforms. However, there are other measures that can help relieve the pressure on the NHS. Blood tests should become a vital part of any annual health check “MOT”. These are fast, relatively inexpensive and can identify many conditions before symptoms arise, leading to faster, timelier treatments. We know that there is consumer demand for them and that they can also serve as a simple, yet important, first line of investigation in the NHS.

‘London Medical Laboratory’s General Health Profile blood test provides people with a comprehensive check-up of their general health, including diabetes (HbA1c), gout, liver & kidney function, bone health, iron levels and a full cholesterol profile. It can be taken at home through the post, or at one of the many drop-in clinics that offer these tests across London and nationwide in over 95 selected pharmacies and health stores. For full details, see: https://www.londonmedicallaboratory.com/product/general-health