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After the reform debacle only 20% think NHS is safe in Cameron's hands

By Tim Montgomerie
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Cameron NHS

A ComRes poll of more than 2,000 adults reveals the extent of the damage caused by the NHS reform debacle:


Twelve months ago the Prime Minister could have opted against significant NHS reform and continued his opposition years tactic of being the NHS' staunchest defender. He was, after all, protecting the NHS budget while Labour wanted to cut it. Alternatively he could have become the patient's champion and introduced much greater competition into the NHS. This would have been unpopular in the short-run but would have moved Britain towards European models of healthcare and their better health outcomes.

Unfortunately we have ended up with the worst of all situations. The public have watched the PM launch what they perceived as radical reforms. The benefits of those reforms were never properly explained and became unpopular. The Lib Dems - despite the PM's protestations - are claiming the credit for diluting those reforms. Clegg is proudly declaring that 11 of 13 Liberal Democrat demands have been met. One Lib Dem MP is saying that voters "can't trust the Tories with the NHS". We have ended up with (1) reforms that are still worth supporting but risk becoming very bureaucratic and (2) a badly undermined health secretary.

In better news a Populus poll for tomorrow's Times has Labour just 1% ahead (40% to 39%). And with the Lib Dems at just 9% in the same survey, Nick Clegg is not benefiting from torpedo-ing reforms he supported only a few months ago. If the Tories are failing to impress on the NHS it seems that other issues are reassuring voters. The Times (£) reports that Cameron and Osborne have a 41% to 23% advantage over Balls and Miliband on economic trustworthiness. Their 18% advantage today was just 11% in March.


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