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GPs to abandon Labour in droves in favour of Tories

By Steve Nowottny

Exclusive - Fewer than one in ten GPs now plan to vote Labour in the next general election, with support for the Conservatives running at more than 50%, a Pulse survey has found.

A poll of 326 GPs reveals that in the wake of the major parties' political conferences, the profession's support for the Government is at its lowest level yet.

Just 8% said they would vote Labour in the next election, which is expected to be held early next summer. 52% said they would vote for the Conservatives, and 22% for the Liberal Democrats.

7 respondents – equivalent to 2% of those polled – listed the British National Party as their preferred choice.

The poll will come as a blow to the Government, which has sought to portray Labour as the natural party of the health service. Health minister Mike O'Brien told Pulse last month: ‘Nothing better symbolises what Labour is about than the NHS.'

But even compared to recent surveys, the drop in support for the Government is striking. A poll of nearly 1,400 GPs in January found 15% would vote Labour, with 50% for the Conservatives and 19% for the Liberal Democrats.

Dr Paul Charlson, chair of the Conservative Medical Society, hailed the survey's findings as a ‘resounding endorsement'.

‘The idea that GPs are to be trusted with real budgets to spend on commissioning care on behalf of their patients is particularly attractive to GPs who have become frustrated at the lack of progress in practice-based commissioning,' he said.

‘Andrew Lansley and his team have taken the time and trouble to listen and understand what needs to happen at the grassroots to ensure that the NHS flourishes.'

Dr David Stokoe, a GP in Liverpool, said he was planning to vote Conservative, largely because of a lack of confidence in the Prime Minister.

‘I don't have any evidence that they will be better for health than the others – but surely they can't be worse,' he said.

Dr Andrew Mimnagh, chair of Sefton LMC, said he was still an undecided voter.

‘I believe there are two certainties for GPs during the next parliament regardless of controlling party,' he said. ‘They will be working longer and harder to the detriment of their personal life. And they will have less disposable income.'

GP voting intentions

52% Conservatives
22% Liberal Democrats
8% Labour
5% Green
2% BNP
7% Other or abstaining
Source: Pulse poll of 326 GPs

Dr David Stokoe, a GP in Liverpool, on his intention to vote Conservative Poll quote

I don't have any evidence that they will be better for health than the others – but surely they can't be worse,

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