Public satisfaction with accident and emergency services dipped to a five-year low in 2013, according to the latest British Social Attitudes survey.

Just over half (53 per cent) of people said they were satisfied with the service in 2013 - the lowest level since 2008, the survey published by the King’s Fund found.

In 2012, 59 per cent of the public were content with A&E services.

The King’s Fund said the dip in confidence came after well-publicised breaches of the four-hour A&E waiting time target last year.

In contrast, satisfaction with hospital outpatient services climbed to a record high of 67 per cent, a Department of Health spokeswoman said.

The figures, taken from research undertaken with more than 1,000 participants, also showed that public satisfaction with the NHS overall remained unchanged, with 60 per cent saying they were pleased with the health service.

“Since 1983 the British Social Attitudes survey has provided an important barometer of how the public views the NHS,” said King’s Fund chief economist John Appleby.

“Public satisfaction in the NHS remains high, although satisfaction with A&E has dropped. This may be due to concerns about waiting times in 2013.”

The DH spokeswoman said: “As this report recognises, public satisfaction in the NHS is high and at record levels for outpatient services.

“The vast majority of patients spend under four hours in A&E and the NHS has met this standard for the past year despite unprecedented demand.

“We know we need to relieve pressure on A&E in the long term which is why we’re strengthening the link between GPs and elderly patients and investing more in out-of-hospital care.”

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: “People can see that the NHS is heading downhill under this government. It has got harder to get a GP appointment and A&Es are struggling to deal with the extra pressure.

“A&E is the barometer of the whole health and care system. It is warning of severe storm ahead unless the government changes course.”