NHS at 60- Labour no longer trusted on National Health Service

NHS at 60- On the eve of the NHS’s sixtieth aniversary a new poll shows that Labour is no longer the party trusted to bring in the health reforms that are needed to safeguard the NHS for future generations.

Despite the billions Labour has poured into health, the YouGov poll shows that public satisfaction with the NHS is dropping. Barely one in five people believe the Labour party will deliver a better health service over the next ten years, the You Gov poll shows.

It comes on the day Gordon Brown is to publish Lord Darzi’s package of reforms to overhaul the way the NHS is run.

The Prime Minister hopes the comprehensive review will transform Labour’s fortunes and restore the party’s reputation as guardians of the NHS on its 60th anniversary.

The results of the poll show he Tories have a clear lead on health policy with 31 per cent of people saying they would do a better job of running the health service, compared to 23 per cent who think Labour would deliver on the NHS.

The results of the latest poll confirm a shift in the political debate over health care, away from funding and towards improved management and organisation.

After years of above-inflation increases in health spending, most voters now believe the NHS has enough money. But they worry that the service has become bureaucratic and over-burdened with managers.

Sixty-nine per cent of people said reorganising the NHS is more important than spending more on it, up from 38 per cent in 1998. Only 24 per cent now want more spent on health, down from 59 per cent a decade ago.

Seventy-eight per cent of voters believe the NHS has too many managers.

And despite the billions Labour has poured into health, the new poll shows that public satisfaction with the NHS is dropping. In 1998, some 91 per cent of recent patients said they were happy with their treatment. That figure has now fallen to 81 per cent.

Some 44 per cent of people said they think “a great deal” of money is being wasted in the NHS. Another 38 per cent said a “fair amount” is wasted.

“David Cameron’s unambiguous commitment to the National Health Service means a great deal to the public. They know that the NHS needs reform and that Labour have failed them on this crucial issue,” said Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary.

“But they also know that Conservative reforms for healthcare will not threaten the security that comes with a health service available to all, based on need. This poll shows that the public, like staff across the NHS, are now willing and ready to trust the Conservatives with the stewardship of the NHS.”

In the foreword to the Darzi report, the Prime Minister hails the document as the blueprint for a “once-in-a-generation” shake-up in the NHS.

The report will usher in the creation of “polyclinics” with several doctors and nurses to replace hundreds of GP surgeries in the biggest cities, despite opposition from patients and the

British Medical Association.

It also says that hospitals should publish death rates for dozens of conditions, allowing patients to make “informed choices” about where to get treatment.

Hospitals should offer more home births for mothers, and old and terminally-ill will get the right to chose to die at home instead of in hospital.

And a new NHS constitution will enshrine rights to confidentiality, control of patient records and a second medical opinion.

Mr Brown writes: “Lord Darzi’s report is a tremendous opportunity to build an NHS which provides truly world-class services for all. It requires government to be serious about reform, committed to trusting front-line staff and ready to invest in new services and new ways of delivering services.”

But Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman said he feared the Darzi package would be vague and impractical. He said: “What does all this mean? Will patients be able to enforce their rights?”

And despite Mr Brown’s bold claims for the review, there are doubts about whether Lord Darzi has been allowed to go far enough in drawing up his reform plans.

His report is not expect to deal with the controversial issue of “co-payment,” where patients can pay extra to top-up NHS care with private provision. That omission has drawn accusations that the review is too limited to prepare the health service for the demands of the next century.

A separate opinion poll for Reform, a think-tank, has suggested that most doctors believe top-up payments should be introduced to the NHS.

The ComRes poll showed that 79 per cent of GPs believe patients should be able to top-up their NHS care with private treatment.

• YouGov polled 2,163 adults across Great Britain between June 23 and 25.


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