Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Why haven't the government's Health & Social Care Bill problems shifted the polls?

This week another health group, this time Londonwide Local Medical Committees, came out against the Health and Social Care Bill.

This adds to the stream of organisations that now oppose the Bill, including the Royal College of Radiologists, the British Medical Association, the Royal College of GPs, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives.

The Bill has also been castigated by the Lancet, both by contributors and in an editorial; its been slated in the British Medical Journal and a joint editorial in the Health Service Journal, British Medical Journal and Nursing Times called for it to be withdrawn.

To compound all of this, the reforms themselves weren't explicitly mentioned in either the Tory or Liberal Democrat manifestos or in the coalition agreement, so have little or no democratic mandate. All in all, they look like an ideological project disguised as patient-focussed reforms.

Couple this with soaring waiting times - with patients waiting more than 18 months up a staggering 43% since the general election of 2010 - and you would expect to see Cameron and the government suffering in the polls.

Except they aren't, if the latest YouGov poll (and the recent polling average) is anything to go by. The big question is why? Has the complexity of the Bill and its implications not broken through into the public consciousness? Have the predominantly right-wing media helped to distort and disguise the problems in the Bill? Or do people instinctively trust Cameron at face value?

Time will tell whether this will change. For one thing, if this Bill does go through, there will be ample evidence of its implications for everyone that uses the NHS.

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