Tories take hit over NHS reform, poll shows

By Ian Dunt

Conservative efforts to reform the NHS have damaged the party's image, a new poll suggests.

Labour has now developed a substantial lead on healthcare, establishing its highest margin since 2002 according to the latest Ipsos Mori political monitor.

Thirty-seven per cent of people believe Labour has the best health policies, compared to 21% who back the Conservatives on the issue.

The big increase from figures in March 2010, when Labour had a lead of just nine points on health, shows the Tories have taken real damage as a result of their reforms, which were watered down following a political uproar.

The poll showed voting intentions otherwise remained mostly unchanged, with Labour down three points on 39%, the Conservatives up two points on 37% and the Liberal Democrats up one point on 11%.

Questions concerning trade unions yielded interesting results, with respondents overwhelmingly backing worker organisation. Seventy-six per cent said unions are "essential to protect workers' interests" while 52% disagreed with the argument that they had too much power, compared to 35% who agreed.

The public was more divided on upcoming strikes over public sector pensions, with 48% agreeing with plans and 48% disagreeing with the planned walkouts.