NHS in disorder
Health secretary Andrew Lansley's proposals to reform the NHS are under heavy fire Reuters

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) polled its readers asking the question: "Should the Health and Social Care Bill for England now be withdrawn?"

Of the 2,947 respondents, 2,706 said "yes", while 241 said no.The readers join 98 percent of GPs, the Royal College of Nurses and the British Medical Association in calling for the bill to be dropped.

Critics of the bill, which proposes the passing of responsibility of health commissioning to GP consortiums, believe it represents privatisation of the health service.

"This poll reflects the extent of the opposition to this bill among doctors," said Fiona Godlee, BMJ editor in chief.

"We also have consistent anecdotal feedback suggesting that initial support for the aims of the government's proposed changes has hemorrhaged over the past year."

Professor Martin Mckee, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, wrote a letter to the BMJ denouncing the lack of direction of the bill.

He criticised health secretary Andrew Lansley for the lack of direction of the reforms, which have been subject to hundreds of amendments.

The House of Lords committee, due to debate the paper again on Wednesday, shared the confusion, claiming: "It is not clear whether the existing structures of political and legal accountability with regard to the NHS will continue to operate as they have done hitherto if the bill is passed in its current form."

Chrsi Ham, chief executive of health charity The King's Fund, said that the government's proposal to put doctors in charge of budgets were "doomed to fail", while the absence of effective management would cause the NHS performance to suffer.