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Public support doctors’ plans for the NHS, says BMA

24 June 2007

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The British Medical Association (BMA) has claimed widespread support among the general public for key aspects of its proposals for the NHS in England, including the call for an independent board to run the NHS.

The BMA commissioned an opinion poll to gauge the views of the general public in England on some of the key NHS reforms as part of the Association’s consultation on an alternative approach to health policy.

The survey was carried out in England with 1,000 members of the public. Street interviews were conducted in three areas (Leeds, Dorset, London and the Home Counties) between 4 and 12 June 2007. The sample was a demographically representative one.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Three out of five respondents (60%) agree with the BMA’s proposal that the NHS should be run by an independent board of governors, accountable to Parliament.
  • Seven out of 10 said decisions about local health services should by made by bodies elected by the local population.
  • More than eight out of 10 agree that doctors should have a major role in deciding how money is spent in the NHS locally and what is best for their patients.
  • Three-quarters of respondents (75%) said that the NHS should provide the same set of nationally agreed services across the country, even if some treatments or medicines are not included.
  • Eight out of ten patients said that if funding was available, their local area should be able to provide additional services.
  • Nine out of ten respondents (93%) believe the NHS should continue to be funded from UK taxes and remain free at the point of use, but when asked whether a small charge should be made for some services where resources are limited, just over half (53%) agreed that this should be the case.

On the role of the private sector in the provision of NHS services, the majority of the public (two-thirds – 66%) said that private companies should provide care only when there is an identified need or gap.

Only a third of patients (34%) believed the changes to the NHS in the past 10 years had made the NHS better. Four in every 10 people (42%) believed the NHS had not got better and almost a quarter (24%) neither agreed or disagreed.

Dr Sam Everington, an East London GP and acting chairman of BMA Council, said: “It is heartening to see the general public backs so many of the BMA’s proposals for the future of the NHS.

“It is time to take politics and political meddling out of the NHS and allow an independent board to be responsible for the day-to-day running of the health service. It would be down to parliament to decide on issues such as NHS priorities and funding.

“The public and doctors are now united in their backing of an independent board to run the NHS and we would urge Gordon Brown to make this a priority when he becomes prime minister.”

“The public want doctors to be more involved in deciding how local health services are run, and they want to be more involved themselves. It is time for the government to listen to us and to the people who elect them.”

To see the BMA’s “green paper” of NHS proposals, see:

To see the public opinion poll report, see: