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Independents' Day

GPs' Choose and Book fears 'crap'

GPs have given a resounding thumbs down to Labour's health policies and a Pulse poll shows support for the party has plummeted ­ Anna Goldie reports

GPs will desert Labour in their droves at the forthcoming general election in protest at the party's health policies.

A Pulse/NOP survey of more than 1,000 GPs reveals only one GP in 10 intends to vote Labour in the expected May 5 poll.

The figure compares with 30 per cent voting for the party in 2001.

Support for Labour has plummeted across the board, but GPs in suburban and

inner-city areas are most likely to switch to other parties.

GPs said increasing privatisation of the NHS, money being spent on management rather than clinical care and broken promises over the contract had led to their change of heart.

Both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are set to pick up GPs' votes, with

support for the Tories rising by four percentage points and for the LibDems by three points.

The two parties are level-pegging at around 30 per cent support among GPs.

Dr Andrew Murrison, Conservative shadow health minister and former GP, said the figures reflected GPs' 'disappointment' with Labour.

He said: 'They made big promises in 2001 which they have not been able to follow through and instead encouraged people to think they could wave a magic wand and make everything better.'

Dr Ian Mack, GP and LibDem candidate for Norfolk South, said increasing numbers of non-clinical targets were leading GPs to desert Labour. He said: 'The Liberal Democrats would cut paperwork and let doctors get on with what they do best ­ decisions based on patient care.'

Labour MP Dr Howard Stoate, a GP in Bexleyheath, Kent, said the results were 'a concern', but said the new contract was 'genuinely exciting' for GPs. He said: 'Primary care has seen the biggest investment of 33 per cent in real terms, and an increase in practice nurses and registrars, and this will continue.'

How will former Labour supporters vote this time?

We all had high hopes for Labour for improving primary care but they have done exactly the same as the Tories in terms of privatisation and trying to lower the bill for public health at a cost to the patient.

Practices are now being run for profit rather then patient care, especially since non-clinical staff are running more of them. Service quality has fallen and things take far too long to be implemented because middle management has been taken over by people without clinical training.

As a GP you now have to be very aware of the PCT's political agenda and push the right buttons. Without using the right buzz words your bid doesn't stand a chance.

I don't have great faith in the Liberal Democrats as they don't have enough experience or people, but there is very little choice when the Conservatives are the other option.

My message for Labour if they stayed in would be 'don't be afraid to backpedal'.

I have no idea who I'm going to vote for because I'm still not sure what the parties are offering, but it won't be Labour.

I'm fed up with the doctor bashing that has gone on recently, especially regarding Harold Shipman. There have also been ridiculous comments made by the Government about doctors earning £100,000 for a nine-to-five week, or saving money by not treating people in hospital.

Whoever is in government needs to let GPs get on with our job.

I'm not voting Labour because they don't know what they are doing with the NHS.

Their behaviour is reprehensible. The NHS has too much money spent on the wrong things and they are wasting a huge amount of it.

I'm postponing my retirement for one year for my pension option. As a citizen, rather then a GP, I don't have any confidence about the care I will have if I reach an old age.

I feel sorry for youngsters in practice. I intend to vote Tory but don't have much confidence in them either.

I've been a lifelong Labour voter and I don't trust the

Tories at all on health. I am sure the Conservative agenda for health will be based on increasing commercial involvement and privatisation.

I don't think Labour have done everything right and I have been disappointed by their approach to revalidation and administration but they are committed to the NHS and it's difficult to know if other parties would do things differently.

Labour are definitely the most NHS friendly.

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