Liberal Democrat MPs are more closely aligned with Labour than with Conservatives on health policy, new research into MPs opinions on the NHS reveals.
As the Health and Social Care Bill progresses through Parliament, it appears that MPs are split along traditional party lines on issues of patient top-ups, GP commissioning and outsourcing to the private sector – indicating that health is a potential area of tension for the Coalition.
The research, commissioned by Westminster Advisers, a public affairs consultancy, and conducted by ComRes, shows that whilst 90% of Conservative MPs agree that ‘GPs should be able to turn to the private sector for administrative assistance with their new commissioning responsibilities’, just 26% of Labour MPs and 34% of Liberal Democrat MPs agree with this statement.
Similar splits emerged on issues such as whether the NHS should provide non-essential operations and services and whether tax payer funded health services should be delivered by the private sector.
The only area for cross-party agreement was that decisions about outsourcing of care should be made primarily on the basis of quality and not cost, reflecting that despite pressure on public services, health is a cross-party priority.
Dominic Church, Managing Director of Westminster Advisers said:
“Our research shows that the landscape for health service providers is changing rapidly but that MP thinking on health remains divided along party lines. The challenge for health services providers is to communicate the value of their services in an evolving market place.”
ComRes survey 151 MPs on the ComRes Parliamentary Panel between 15th October and 12th November 2010.