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The political views of doctors in the United Kingdom: a cross-sectional study

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Kate L. Mandeville, Rose-Marie Satherley, Jennifer A. Hall, Shailen Sutaria, Chris Willott, Kielan Yarrow, Keerthi Mohan, Ingrid Wolfe, Delan Devakumar

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Volume72
Issue number10
Early online date30 Jul 2018
DOIs
Accepted/In press22 May 2018
E-pub ahead of print30 Jul 2018
Published2018

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Abstract

Background: Little is known about the political views of doctors in the United Kingdom, despite their importance in the functioning of the National Health Service. Methods: Survey-based cross-sectional study in which we asked questions about voting behaviour in 2015 and 2017 UK general elections and 2016 referendum on leaving the European Union (Brexit) and questions relating to recent health policies. Results: 1,172 doctors (45.1% women) from 1,295 responded to an online survey. 60.5% described their political views as ‘left-wing’ and 62.2% described themselves as ‘liberal’. 79.4% of respondents voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum compared to 48.1% of voters as a whole (χ2=819.8, p<0.001). 98.6% of respondents agreed that EU nationals working in the NHS should be able to remain in the UK after Brexit. The median score for the impact of Brexit on the NHS on a scale of 0 (worst impact) to 10 (best impact) was 2 (IQR=1-4). Most respondents agreed with the introduction of minimum alcohol pricing in the UK (73.9%), charging patients who are not eligible for NHS treatment for non-urgent care (70.6%) and protecting a portion of national spending for the NHS (87.1%). 65.8% thought there was too much use of NHS-funded private sector provision in their medical practice. Specialty, income and grade were associated with divergent opinions. Conclusions: UK doctors are left-leaning and liberal in general, which is reflected in their opinions on topical health policy issues. Doctors in the UK voted differently from the general electorate in recent polls.

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