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Experiences of the NHS
Health and Care Survey, September 2021

Key findings on NHS experiences

  • Six in ten (63%) people feel listened to and understood by nurses or doctors
  • Getting a GP appointment when you need it is a problem for more of half of Brits (52%)
  • Three in ten people (30%) say they’ve recently sought medical treatment but haven’t got the help they needed
  • One in five (21%) say they’ve been forced to go private because they couldn’t get the NHS treatment they needed
  • One in five (22%) people from ethnic minorities and one in six (18%) Disabled People have experienced discrimination by NHS staff.

Being listened to and understood

In the Community Conversations, many things were said about the importance of being listened to and understood by nurses or doctors.

One woman with a long-term health condition said:

“A specialist nurse that I personally saw two weeks ago, who has completely changed my life, because that’s what she was doing; she heard me. It’s just, it’s life changing, it really is.”
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Our survey shows that most people feel listened to and understood by staff when they visit their GP or hospital, but experiences are mixed. Almost every other woman (45%) aged 18 to 34 has felt dismissed by a healthcare worker in recent years and one in four (27%) young adults aged 18-24 report seeking mental health support without being taken seriously.

Use the arrows below to explore the responses to three questions about being listened to.

Problems getting seen

Many people raised the problems of long waits and confusion about where to turn in our Community Conversations. Here’s what one person shared:

“I’m going to need another operation soon. And I say soon, there’s the potential that the eight-month wait that I was told to expect before will now double. So I’m not expecting really to be living the next couple of years of my life. Well, not necessarily living, but surviving.”
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Our survey shows one in four (25%) people experienced a serious impact on their mental health while waiting for treatment for themselves or a loved one. And more than half of Brits have problems getting a GP appointment when they need one.

Use the arrows below to explore the responses to seven questions about getting seen.

Experiences of discrimination

A range of experiences of discrimination were shared in the Community Conversations. Here’s one example:

“Sometimes we’re told that you should really be glad you’re here and you’re getting this treatment free. Where you’ve come from, you’ve had to pay for it. Now that’s so condescending, it’s so condescending, and it makes us feel as though we are nothing.”
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In our survey, one in five (22%) people from an ethnic minorities background have felt discriminated against based on their race or ethnicity when seeking NHS care for themselves or a family member.

Use the arrows below to find out how different groups responded to seven questions about discrimination.

About this survey

Engage Britain has commissioned a nationally representative survey of 4,010 UK adults (18+).

The purpose of the survey is to explore how common experiences raised in the community conversations are and to explore views on health and care.

The survey was commissioned by Engage Britain and conducted by Yonder. Online fieldwork was undertaken 5-8 July 2021.

See the full results in the polling tables here.