A new poll has found that Lord Darzi should be radical if his review is to win back the support of the medical profession for the Government. The online poll, commissioned by the independent think tank Reform and carried out by the polling company ComRes, has found that only five per cent of GPs think that the current structure of regulation helps them in making decisions in the best interests of patients. Strikingly, nearly half of GPs support a fundamental shift in the funding of the NHS towards the Continental model of compulsory health insurance.
On the eve of the Darzi review, the poll shows that doctors are deeply disillusioned as a profession. Asked to review their experience as GPs since qualification, 97 per cent report that bureaucracy has risen and 74 per cent report that their job satisfaction has fallen.
The poll also finds that nearly four in five GPs support top-up payments and less than one in five are against. Such a high level of support among doctors greatly increases the likelihood that Professor Mike Richards will approve top-up payments at the end of his current review of the policy for the Department of Health.
The highlights of the poll are as follows:
- 79 per cent of GPs believe patients should be able to top-up their NHS care with private treatment. Only 18 per cent support the current system where patients must pay for all their care themselves if they choose to pay extra for a drug or treatment.
- 63 per cent of GPs feel the current regulatory framework hinders their ability to make the best decision in the interests of patients, with only 5 per cent believing it helps.
- 97 per cent of GPs say the degree of bureaucracy within the NHS has “increased a lot” or has “increased somewhat” since they qualified.
- 58 per cent believe the degree of bureaucracy increased most within the last 5 years. This would coincide with the new GMS contract (which introduced the QOF) that was negotiated in 2003 and introduced in April 2004.
- 48 per cent support the current, solely tax-payer funded system; whereas 45 per cent support moving to a more continental, compulsory health insurance model.
- 60 per cent of GPs rate their overall satisfaction of working within the NHS as either “low” or “very low”. This compares to slightly over a third (36 per cent) who rate it as high.
- 74 per cent say their satisfaction level had dropped since they qualified as a GP.
- Only 13 per cent of GPs are satisfied with the way their profession is currently led, with 80 per cent feeling better leadership is required.