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%.’