“I love the NHS, but…”: Preventing needless harms caused by poor communications in the NHS


“It’s a bit of a toxic relationship. I love our NHS – I will stand up for it all day long. But at the same time, I understand that it’s quite damaged” – Community Conversations participant.

The NHS is deeply valued across the UK and public attitudes often champion the free, comprehensive healthcare it provides. But the institution has been under significant strain in recent years and a growing disillusionment is taking hold among many who rely on its care.

In this report we make a powerful case for the urgent need to improve communication within the NHS. We found that more than half (55%) of people have experienced poor communications from NHS in the past five years and one in ten say their care has been affected as a result. Good communication should not be seen as a ‘nice to have’, but as fundamental to the functioning of the NHS. 

We are calling on the government to deliver improvements in this space. In short, we are calling for:

  1. An expansion of the system of care coordinators and improving access to clinicians with oversight of all the care received by people with complex conditions.
  2. An expansion of the system of care navigators in GP surgeries across the country, helping people to navigate complex systems and linking people up with the right services.
  3. Improvements to the uptake and use of the NHS App through improved functionality and greater publicity.


This report is the product of 2 years’ work by Engage Britain between 2021-2023. Engage Britain was a charity set up to show there’s a better way to do politics by bringing people together to tackle Britain’s hardest problems. This report is being published just after Engage Britain merged with Demos in November 2023.