YouGov poll shows trust in prime minister waning over NHS reforms
YouGov poll shows trust in prime minister waning over NHS reforms Reuters

Prime Minister David Cameron is facing a "collapse in trust" over proposed reforms to the health service, trade union Unite claims.

A YouGov poll for the union shows that six times as many people trust health professionals' opinion on the coalition government's controversial Health and Social Care Bill over the prime minister and his health minister, Andrew Lansley.

The poll paints an unhappy picture of public perception of the bill, which has come under sustained fire across the health service, and proposes the passing of care commissioning from Primary Care Trusts (PCT) to GPs.

The British Medical Association, GPs, the Royal College of Nurses, several Liberal Democrats and even some Conservatives have spoken out against the reforms, which the Labour shadow cabinet branded a "disaster".

The poll also appears to show a divide in the coalition's support. Around 80 percent of Lib Dem respondents believe the government should publish its own risk register on the reforms.

The government continues to fight calls for a risk register to be published, as it would detail the possible impact of the reforms.

The poll, of 1,772 people, saw 68 percent of respondents call on the coalition to publish a risk register, while just eight percent trusted Cameron and Lansley more than health professionals.

"David Cameron is hemorrhaging trust over the health bill with public disquiet growing each day the government fights to keep the risk register secret," said Unite general secretary Len McCluskey.

"People have a right to know what damage these so-called reforms will do to their NHS.

"The government's secrecy begs the question of who comes first, the people who pay for and use the NHS, or corporate consultants who drafted the bill and stand to make money from Cameron's privatisation plan?

"David Cameron and Andrew Lansley need to come clean, get in step with public opinion and drop this unnecessary and damaging bill."

NHS sources claim that senior PCT staff are jumping ship as the health service is reshuffled in preparation for the bill being passed.

Meanwhile, health professionals are beginning to find their voice with renewed vigour. Former health chief and GP Dr Peter Bailey called for the bill to be dropped, claiming GPs were "duped" into initially supporting it.

The YouGov poll figures have been released as Cameron hosts a summit of health practitioners to discuss the implementation of his reforms.

He has been criticised for apparently failing to invite the BMA and the Royal College of General Practitioners to the summit.

Lord Owen, a fierce opponent of the proposed reforms, told the Guardian that Cameron was using "reprehensible tactics" to see the bill passed.

"He is clearly trying a policy of divide and rule in the hope that he can break the opposition to the bill by only asking those he believes will support him," he said.

In January it was revealed that Lord Owen had been in contact with the Labour Party, urging it to campaign on the NHS.

Lansley claimed the government remains confident that patients will benefit from more power being put in the hands of "frontline doctors and nurses", adding that pre-emptive restructuring was already having a positive response.

"Patients are being treated in more convenient places, pressure on hospitals is reducing and we are safeguarding the NHS for future generations," he said.