The chair of the Royal College of GPs, Clare Gerada, who has been critical of the health and social care bill. Photograph: Frank Baron for the Guardian

Powered by article titled “Three-quarters of GPs want health and social care bill withdrawn, poll reveals” was written by Randeep Ramesh, social affairs editor, for on Thursday 12th January 2012 12.24 Europe/London

Nearly three-quarters of family doctors surveyed by the Royal College of General Practitioners want the government to withdraw the coalition’s health and social care bill, it has emerged.

In an online poll of doctors, 1,900 out of 2,600 respondents said it was appropriate to pull the legislation even as it wends its way through the House of Lords. When asked if the college, which represents 44,000 doctors, should call for the bill to be withdrawn jointly with other medical royal colleges, more than 98% of respondents said they “strongly supported” or “supported” such an action.

The figures strengthen the hand of the RCGP chair, Clare Gerada, who wanted to assess the views of the college membership before pushing forward with her own line, which has been consistently critical of the bill.

Although the poll was self-selecting, those who answered were largely negative about the legislation. Nearly 60% said the reforms would not result in more cost-effective delivery of care and almost 90% said the reforms would increase the involvement of the private sector.

The college wants the bill to be amended so the secretary of state is explicitly responsible for the health service and the private sector cannot cherry pick services.

Gerada said: “The report stage of the bill is expected to be held in the House of Lords at the end of January, so it is timely for us to reiterate our concerns and show the government that we want to continue working with them to bring about positive change for the benefit of our patients.”

Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, said: “These results are devastating for Andrew Lansley. It is hard to see how he can possibly carry on with his bill in the face such overwhelming professional opposition. As we approach the first-year anniversary of the introduction of this bill into parliament, it is clear that the government’s attempts to build a professional consensus behind it have abjectly failed.

“People will ask how can plans that were meant to be based around GPs can possibly succeed when only two out of a hundred support them.”

A source close to Lansley, the health secretary, dismissed the survey, saying it was not an opinion poll and therefore “had little credibility”. The source pointed out that 6% of the doctors who replied were from Scotland, and therefore unaffected by the NHS reforms. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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