A new survey commissioned by The King’s Fund with Doctors.net.uk has revealed deep scepticism among doctors about the government’s proposed health reforms.
Fewer than one in four doctors believe that the government’s proposed reforms will improve patient care.
Only a fifth of those polled believe that the NHS will be able to maintain its focus on improving efficiency while implementing the proposed reforms.
On a more positive note, more than 60% of GPs believe there are GPs in their area with the capacity to lead new GP commissioning consortia.
The survey asked for the views of 500 GPs and 500 hospital doctors and was undertaken shortly after consultation on the ‘Liberating the NHS’ white paper closed.
The survey highlights the challenge facing the government in convincing doctors that the proposed reforms will improve the quality of care.
It also reflects concern that – with the spending review committing the NHS to finding up to £20 billion in efficiency savings by 2015 – implementing the reforms may distract from the urgent task of improving productivity.
Views were split on whether the reforms will encourage closer working between GPs and hospital doctors, with 39% agreeing with this and 36 per cent disagreeing.
The survey’s results mirror those of a survey of staff working in strategic health authorities and primary care trusts carried out by EHI Primary Care this autumn.
However, they have been dismissed by health secretary Andrew Lansley, who has insisted that both the direction and the pace of the reforms will be maintained.
Commenting on the lates survey’s findings, Anna Dixon, director of policy at The King’s Fund, said: “The government is relying on doctors to deliver its health reforms.
"It can take some comfort from the finding that the majority of GPs believe there is capacity in their area to lead new GP consortia.
“But this survey highlights significant scepticism among doctors about the government’s proposals and shows that ministers have a lot of work to do to convince them that the reforms will improve patient care.”
Dr Tim Ringrose, medical director at Doctors.net.uk said: "This survey reveals that the majority of doctors are not yet convinced that the proposed reforms will work to improve the quality of care delivered by the NHS. Furthermore, they can’t see how efficiency savings can be made at the same time.
"Clear, consistent communication with doctors about how the principles of these reforms translate into the reality of clinical practice should be a top priority for Andrew Lansley.”