• Inpatient survey finds rising dissatisfaction with waiting times
  • Annual research finds more patients feel they have waited too long for a bed once at hospital
  • Public still rate interactions with doctors and nurses highly, as they do food, hydration, rest and privacy

Public satisfaction with waiting times have declined, according to NHS-commissioned research.

The annual inpatient survey for 2018 released this morning found significant falls in the proportion of people saying they were admitted “as soon as I thought necessary”.

This score declined to 72 per cent, the lowest since the survey began in 2009. The number of people who said “I should have been admitted a lot sooner” rose to 11 per cent, up from 10 per cent the previous year and up from 8 per cent in 2009.

Asked if they felt they had to wait a long time to get a bed on a ward, 16 per cent answered “yes definitely” – up from 12 per cent in 2009 and 15 per cent the previous year.

The Care Quality Commission, which oversees the survey, said it was “disappointed”.

Chief inspector of hospitals Ted Baker said: “Last year’s survey showed a healthcare system still delivering improvements despite growing pressure. But this year, the improvement trend we have seen for the past six years has not been sustained.

“Staff are working incredibly hard, but it is clear we have reached a point where this alone is not enough. The mounting pressure on the system is having a direct impact on how people are experiencing inpatient care and the need for greater collaboration between local health and care services has never been more apparent.”

Researchers from the Picker Institute, which carries out the survey, found the time spent waiting for discharge from hospital had increased, with the main reason for this being waiting for medicines.

The news comes as NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens yesterday told the NHS Confederation’s annual conference hospital trusts would need to increase their bed-base over the next five years.

NHS Confederation chief executive Niall Dickson said: “The NHS is doing a great job against the odds – our staff are facing record levels of demand, carrying out more operations and emergency treatment than ever with more than 100,000 vacancies.

“But we cannot go on like this – our members have made it abundantly clear that unless the government acts on wider health and care funding the ambitious plans for the NHS will be in jeopardy.”

The survey, which was conducted in July last year, showed “the fundamental needs of most patients are being met in terms of food, hydration, rest and privacy”. Satisfaction with hospital food has improved, with the proportion saying it was “very good” rising from 19 per cent in 2009 to 23 per cent in 2018.

Interactions with staff were also rated favourably, with trust in nurses and doctors remaining high.

An NHS England spokeswoman said: ”This survey is further evidence that in the vast majority of cases patients are happy with the care they received, but also that the NHS and its local partners need to continue to join up services around the needs of patients, as set out in the NHS long term plan.”