The English NHS has a public reputation roughly on a par with frozen food retailer Iceland or the UK media sector, according to a unique analysis exclusively obtained by HSJ.

The Reputation Institute analyses the standing of businesses in 32 countries, including the 140 largest UK companies. Its work is based on the premise that organisations with the strongest reputations receive greatest stakeholder support.

The RI was asked by the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators to carry out the same research on the NHS.

When the NHS across the UK was compared with other public sector bodies, its reputation trailed the BBC’s, but was on a par with that of the London Stock Exchange or the Bank of England.

The RI’s analysis found the English health service was thought to be relatively good at “implementing new services for local health needs” but it scored badly on engaging with local stakeholders and on prioritising local needs over national diktats.

“Leaders’ and managers’” reputation for being “competent, honest and trustworthy” was scored lower than almost any other aspect investigated by the RI.

The only lower score was that given to the English NHS’s reputation for having “a clear vision for the future”.

The biggest driver of the NHS’s reputation in the public’s eyes is the quality of the service it provides, followed by innovation such as new treatments and governance. But leadership and performance have relatively little influence on reputation.

Despite public reservations about the NHS, the average respondent was likely to “say positive things” about the English NHS and “recommend it to others”.

The RI only polled English residents but it found their opinion of the Scottish and Welsh NHS was higher than of the English system.

But the English NHS’s reputation score of 70.5 places it significantly above the RI’s “global mean” of corporate reputation of 64.2.

The highest-scoring UK corporate sectors were food manufacturing (76.33) and consumer products (75.1).