Skip to main content

Doctors say Brexit bad for the NHS

With the persistent underfunding of the National Health Service,  crippling 'efficiency savings' and increased pressure on doctors, nurses and other health care workers, it is little surprise that the doctors in the UK have shifted in the political spectrum.  A new study finds that a once generally 'Conservative' profession has now become more leftwing.

The survey published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health finds that British doctors are now mostly left-leaning and liberal minded...except for surgeons and high earners.

UK doctors think Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU), dubbed Brexit, will be very bad for the NHS.



As a group, they are predominantly left-wing and liberal-minded. But high earners tend to lean more to the right of the political spectrum, while surgeons are twice as likely as other specialties to express right-wing views.

When respondents rated their political beliefs on a scale of 0 (extremely left wing) to 10 (extremely right wing), the average score was 4. But the higher the income bracket, the more likely was the respondent to lean to the right.

Surgeons were twice as likely to register a right wing score, while psychiatrists and public health doctors were half as likely to do so. And junior doctors at specialty training entry level (ST3) and above were less likely to express right wing views relative to all other grades.

Nearly two thirds (just over 62%) of respondents described themselves as liberal while nearly one in four (23.6%) said they were conservative.

Shift to the left

There was a shift to the left between the 2015 and 2017 elections, with the proportion of doctors voting Labour rising from just over 29 percent to just over 46 percent, while the proportion voting Conservative fell from just over 26 percent to just under 20 percent.

Among those who were ineligible/unable to vote in 2017, nearly a third (just under 30%) said they would have opted for a Labour candidate. Voter turnout among doctors for both elections was significantly higher than among the electorate.

Overwhelmingly against Brexit

Doctors overwhelmingly backed staying in the EU, with nearly eight out of 10 voting to remain in the 2016 referendum. Among those ineligible/unable to vote, more than 85 percent said they would have voted to remain in the bloc. Only 2 percent of respondents didn’t vote compared with nearly 28 percent of the electorate.

Brexit bad for NHS

Virtually all respondents agreed that EU nationals working in the NHS should be allowed to stay in the UK after Brexit. And most thought Brexit would be very bad for the NHS, irrespective of grade, income, or specialty, giving it an average score of 2 on a 0 (worst outcome) to 10 (best) scale. Nearly 83 percent scored it below 5.

In terms of their views on health policy, most backed minimum unit pricing for alcohol (74%); charging patients not eligible for NHS treatment for non-urgent care (71%); and protected funding for the NHS (87%). And two thirds (just under 66%) thought there was too much private sector care funded by the NHS: only surgeons were half as likely to agree.

This is the first large scale study look at the political opinions of UK doctors, say the authors, but they acknowledge that despite their best efforts, the sample may not be fully representative, so should be taken as an indication only of the views of the UK medical workforce.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services. It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared. Utilitarian ethics considers the ba

Keir Starmer has a lot to offer

The Labour Party is in the process of making a decision that will decide whether it can recover from the defeat in 2019 General Election.  All the candidates have much to offer and are making their case well. No doubt for some the decision will be difficult.  Others may well have made up their minds on the simple binary of Left-wing-Right-wing. The choice should be whoever is best placed to pull the party together.  Someone who can form a front bench of all talents and across the spectrum in the party. That is what Harold Wilson did in the 1960s.  His government included Roy Jenkins on the right and Barbar Castle on the left; it included Crossman and Crossland, and Tony Benn with Jim Callaghan.  It presented a formidable team. Keir Starmer brings to the top table a formidable career outside politics, having been a human rights lawyer and then Director of Public Prosecutions.   He is a man of integrity and commitment who believes in a fairer society where opportunities are more

The lion and the wildebeest

Birds flock, fish school, bees swarm, but social being is more than simply sticking together.  Social groups enable specialisation and a sharing of abilities, and enhances ability, learning and creating new tricks. The more a group works together, the more effective they become as a team.  Chimpanzees learn from each other how to use stones to crack nuts, or sticks to get termites.  All around us we see cooperation and learning in nature.  Nature is inherently creative.  Pulling together becomes a rallying cry during a crisis.  We have heard it throughout the coronavirus pandemic.  "We are all in this together", a mantra that encourages people to adopt a common strategy. In an era of 'self-interest' and 'survival of the fittest,'  and 'selfish gene', we lose sight of the obvious conclusion from the evidence all around us.   Sticking together is more often the better approach.  This is valid for the lion as it is also for the wildebeest.   We don't