Background Little is known about the political views of doctors in the UK despite doctors' importance in the functioning of the National Health Service (NHS).
Methods This is a 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 (EU) (Brexit), and questions relating to recent health policies.
Results 1172 doctors (45.1% women) from 1295 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 with 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.
- health policy
- public health policy
- health services
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Contributors DD conceived the study. DD, KLM, JAH, SS, CW and R-MS designed and piloted the survey instrument. R-MS, DD, KLM, SS, JAH, KY, KM and IW collected the data. R-MS, KY and KLM analysed the data. KLM wrote the first draft of the manuscript, to which all authors contributed and reviewed. DD is the guarantor for this study. All authors, external and internal, had full access to all of the data (including statistical reports and tables) in the study and can take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
Funding DD and JAH received salary funding from NIHR. This paper presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
Disclaimer The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.
Competing interests KM has been an unpaid member of the British Medical Association Council since 2013.
Patient consent Not required.
Ethics approval Ethics approval for this study was obtained from UCL Ethics Committee (2744/004).
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement The full anonymised data set (with aggregation for small numbers) is available from the corresponding author. Participants gave informed consent for data sharing with other researchers.