David Cameron will be attempting a spot of triage on his ailing NHS bill today as he holds a summit at Downing Street. But he faces a stiff challenge in his attempts to get the “reforms” off life support, judging by some fresh polling from YouGov (for Progressive Polling and Unite). That poll shows organisations representing Doctors, Nurses and other health professionals are six times more likely to be trusted on reform than the PM or the Health Secretary.
It is remarkable then that these are exactly the groups (in the form of the BMA, the Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Nursing) that Cameron has excluded from today’s tete a tete.
Having said that, excluding the Royal College of Nursing from today’s talks may be understandable as far as the PM is concerned. After all they are partially responsible for one of Cameron’s stickiest polling problems - trust. 59% of voters (including 1/3 of those who voted Tory at the last election) believe that Cameron has not delivered on his pre-election NHS assurances. The most notable of those was of course given to the Royal College of Nursing, when he told them:
“There will be no more of those pointless reorganisations which aim for change but instead bring chaos.”
You can watch the video of that speech below:
Is it any wonder then that Michael Portillo said of the Tory NHS plans last year:
“They did not believe they could win an election if they told you what they were going to do, because people are so wedded to the NHS.”
If the polling is bad for Cameron and Lansley, it’s much better for Labour. 43% believe that Labour has the best approach to the NHS (leading the Tories by 15 points) – and almost one in ten of those who voted Tory in 2010 believe that Labour’s approach is better than the government’s. 51% of those who voted Lib Dem in 2010 back Labour’s approach to the NHS, compared to just 15% backing the Tories.
In addition, with Labour urging the government to release the “risk register” of possible problems with the NHS reforms – 68% of voters believe that the government should release it, including 61% of 2010 Tory voters and a huge 79% of Lib Dem voters. As Unite’s General Secretary Len McCluskey told LabourList last night:
“The government’s secrecy begs the question of who comes first.”
Cameron has a mountain to climb to convince the public that he’s on the right course with these reforms. Unfortunately for him, the groups that the public trust on these reforms won’t even be in the room…