GP backing for Tories grows

The majority of GPs now favour Conservative health policy despite opposing Tory plans to impose commissioning res­ponsibility on the profession.

Our poll of GPs' voting intentions reveals just 15 per cent will vote Labour and only 17 per cent prefer Labour's health policies.

The survey of 314 GPs found 53 per cent plan to vote Con­servative this year, compared with just 24 per cent in 1997.

GPs are unhappy with many of Labour's flagship policies, with 59 per cent condemning practice-based commissioning as a ‘failure' and 78 per cent opposed to plans to scrap practice boundaries.

With the election campaign under way and focused on health, nearly 6 per cent of GPs remain undecided who they will vote for.

A previous GP poll found that in 1997 the Conservatives were seen as having the worst health policy of the major parties.

Who plans to vote for GPs

Conservative shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said Labour had since become ‘ob-sessed with undermining GPs'.

The results of the poll were ‘a real vote of confidence in the Conservative party's NHS policies', he said.

But the majority of GPs' comments suggest anger at Labour and concern with politics in general, rather than genuine support for the Conservatives.

Also, less than a third (30 per cent) of GPs support the Conservatives' plans to hand res­ponsibility for commissioning budgets to GPs.

‘We will be blamed for any shortfall,' warned one GP.

One respondent was ‘not impressed with any of them' while another hoped for ‘less anti-GP propaganda and bur­eaucracy' under the Tories. Ano­ther was ‘fed up with working harder for decreasing money'.

In an exclusive interview  with GP this week, health minister Mike O'Brien admitted GPs had been put under pressure by Labour in order to justify huge investment into the NHS and the 2004 GP contract.

He said: ‘We have done it because to justify the extra money we have to do more for patients, and you [GPs] have to do more for patients.

‘The Conservatives may not have demanded much from you, but you wouldn't have been on the income you're on now if the Tories had been in.'

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said Labour was now seen by many GPs as ‘the enemy of the NHS'.

The imposition of so-called Darzi centres ‘has to top the list' of Labour policies most disliked by GPs, said Dr Buckman.

Other policies that had angered GPs were Choose and Book, NHS Choices and exten­ded hours, he said. 

GP's poll found The Green Party was the most popular minority party among GPs, with just over 3 per cent planning to vote for them.

Click here for GPs' views on health policies so far

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