David Cameron worked hard in opposition to convince the public that the Tories could be trusted with the NHS. He promised to protect the health service from cuts and, infamously, pledged to “stop the top-down reorganisations of the NHS” (before embarking on the largest top-down reorganisation since Nye Bevan founded the service).
He even declared that while it took Tony Blair three words to sum up his priorities for government (“Education, education, education”), he could do it in three letters: “N-H-S”. Cameron was determined to ensure that the Conservatives would never fight another election from behind on the NHS. But Andrew Lansley’s chaotic reforms mean that much of his work has been undone. The latest New Statesman/ICD poll shows that the Tories are now less trusted than Labour to run the NHS effectively.
27 per cent of respondents said that Labour is the party they trust to run the health service most effectively, compared to 23 per cent who said the Conservatives and 7 per cent who said the Liberal Democrats. However, 26 per cent said that they trust no party to run the NHS effectively.
In yet another speech on the NHS today, Cameron will offer “five guarantees” on the health service. The PM will pledge to maintain a universal service, to increase spending, not to privatise the NHS, to keep waiting times low and to keep care integrated. But whether the public are in any mood to listen is another matter.
In the meantime, Cameron has come under attack from his party’s right flank. Tory backbencher Nick de Bois, one of Andrew Lansley’s most energetic defenders, has vowed to vote against the bill unless it preserves the principle of competition.
This exclusive poll for the New Statesman was carried out by ICD Research, powered by ID Factor, from 4-5 June 2011 and is based on a sample of 1,000 responses.