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Independents' Day

Half of GPs don't trust any political party with managing the NHS

Exclusive: Almost half of GPs do not trust any political party to manage the NHS, with more than a third still undecided about who to vote for in next year’s general election, a Pulse survey has found.

In what highlights clear political mistrust amongst the profession, a survey of 552 GPs found that 47% do not trust any party with the health service and support for specific policies from the main political parties is mostly below 20%.

Support for the individual parties is also at an all time low, with the vast majority of respondents to the same survey saying they have still not made up their minds about who to vote for, despite the elections being only seven months away.

Support for the coalition parties in particular has plummeted from 54% since the 2010 election to a mere 20%. And the Labour party has failed to cash in on its opponents’ downfall as only 16% said they would be backing the party, compared to 15% in 2010.

However UKIP has managed to win over some GPs, with 6% intending to vote for them next year compared to 1% in 2010. While the NHA party looks set to win 1.5% of GPs’ vote share.

Responding to the survey, some GPs accused all the parties of ‘inflicting damage’ on general practice and having ‘no viable policies for a good NHS’.

And when asked about the main political parties’ flagship policies, including the reintroduction of the 48-hour GP appointment target, seven-day access and personal health budgets, the majority did not agree with any of them.

The survey was carried out in September prior to prime minister David Cameron’s announcement last week that patients will be able to access a GP practice seven days a week - from 8 ‘til 8 by 2020 if his party returned to power at the next election.

Andy Burnham told the Labour party conference last week that general practice would become part of hospital-led ‘integrated care organisations’ as he also pledged to introduce 8,000 GPs into the health service.

When asked which party they trusted the most to manage the NHS, 7% of GPs said they trusted the Conservatives, 3% trusted their coalition partners and although Labour party was named the most trusted party, it was only among 19% of GPs.

The survey found that UKIP has managed to win over some GPs, with 6% intending to vote for them next year compared to 1% in 2010. While the NHA party looks set to win 1.5% of GPs’ vote share.

Responding to the survey, Dr Zishan Mehdi Syed, a GP in Maidstone, Kent said: ‘I am undecided. It seems the NHS is a political football. Each political party inflicts damage on the NHS and GPs in different ways. All of the parties have a different agenda to GPs.’ 

While Dr Charilaos Minas, a GP in South Gloucestershire told Pulse: ‘I will not vote next year. I cannot trust any of them to deliver what they promise.’

With the survey also showing that only 30% of GPs support the reintroduction of the 48-hour GP appointment target and only 14% support seven-day access, Dr Peter Swinyard, chair of the Family Doctor Association, warned that if the political parties wanted to win GPs’ votes between now and May they should focus on ‘not reorganising a damn thing’.

‘What they should be focusing on is reversing the trends that have caused GP morale to plummet and GPs to be deserting in droves, funding out-of-hospital care well to save money on in-hospital care, reversing the dreadful funding crisis in GP and restoring the percentage of the NHS budget invested in general practice to 11%.’

GP election pie chart


Readers' comments (4)

  • This doesn't really matter as politicians 'pull the strings' in the NHS. whatever they want to do they will and what GPs think is not important to them ... largely because GPs are scared of their own shadows and we have a leadership that is as effective as a chocolate fireguard.

    If we threatened to resign en masse or switch to a different health care model then things would be different ...

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  • NHS to be apolitical?

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  • Integrated care organisations have existed previously - local hospitals working with local GPs supported by practice based teams of district nurses. Unfortunately due to the 'choice' agenda, the marketization of health, payment by results, and cutbacks to community services such as district nursing, patient’s care has become increasingly fragmented. Already complex patients are made increasingly complicated by receiving packages of care provided by multiple different organisations none of whom take responsibility for their care and pass everything back to the GP.

    What we need is local primary and secondary care working together to provide integrated care based on locally developed pathways. These clinicians need to be able to communicate with each other about patient care. There needs to be clear definition of who has responsibility for each aspect of patient care to prevent unnecessary referral to secondary care as well as inappropriate dumping of work on general practice. Consultants should be able to refer to their colleagues within their trust if this is part of the management of the presenting problem and this should occur without the need for a GP referral. Consultants and discharging teams should provide adequate amounts of medication that the GP then continues after 28 days. District nursing teams should be practice based and resourced adequately in order to provide good quality end of life care, routine nursing care, and care to support people at home so as to prevent unnecessary admission.

    Mr Burnham, I agree that integration is the key, but I disagree with your plans to allow the inefficient and often mismanaged part of the NHS, acute hospital trusts, to run the efficient and generally well managed part, general practice. Lets forget ideology for once and listen to those on the coal face who know how things work rather than the ‘think tanks’ who live in cloud cuckoo land.

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  • Please either make all GPs salaried or completely de-regulate the healthcare services, let doctors get-together and start One Stop Healthcare Centres providing a comprehensive and complete healthcare cover for all.
    Let public pay at least 5% of the cost or at least for not attending the appointments

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