By Gareth Iacobucci
Exclusive: GPs’ support for the Conservatives has slumped in the latest Pulse poll, following the party’s controversial pledge to provide access to a local GP on a Sunday.
Our survey of 370 GPs found 37% planned to vote Conservative in the general election, compared with 52% in a similar Pulse poll in November. Another poll in recent weeks had also placed GP support for the party at more than 50%.
The Tories remain comfortably the most popular party among the profession, but their support among GPs has been severely dented, with the Sunday pledge likely to be to blame.
Our survey was conducted over the last week, almost entirely after shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley pledged to give patients access to a local GP for routine appointments from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.
That prompted a furious response from the profession, with a record 40 mostly negative comments from GPs on Pulse’s online forum.
The Conservative lead has narrowed, reflecting the national swing towards Labour, whose support among GPs has increased from 8% in November to 17% now. Some 24% of GPs said they would be voting Liberal Democrat, up from 22% in November.
Dr Phil Gard, a GP in Nottingham, said: ‘I can’t see how the Conservative pledge of access to GPs 8am-8pm seven days a week could work without every GP working from Darzi centres.’
Tory plans to ramp up use of the private sector were also unpopular, with 78% against scrapping the Government’s ‘preferred provider’ guidance.
But 48% still felt Andrew Lansley would make the best health secretary, followed by Andy Burnham with 28% and Norman Lamb with 24%.
And 33% felt the Conservatives would be the best party for the NHS, versus 22% for Labour and 18% for the Lib Dems.
Follow the latest with Pulse’s election tracker Pulse election coverage GP support for Tories slumps