Public Trust In Doctors Remains High

The public's trust in doctors remains at a remarkably high level, according to a new MORI opinion poll commissioned by the BMA, which tracks views on doctors over a 16 year period.

The public's trust in doctors remains at a remarkably high level, according to a new MORI opinion poll commissioned by the BMA, which tracks views on doctors over a 16 year period.

Ninety-one per cent of the public said they trust doctors to tell the truth. That compares with 86 per cent in 1997, 84 per cent in 1993 and 82 per cent in 1983.

Doctors headed the list of sixteen professions trusted to tell the truth, followed by teachers (89 per cent), clergymen (80 per cent) and professors (79 per cent).

Asked how satisfied they were with the way doctors did their jobs, 91 per cent of the public said they were satisfied. Only nurses scored higher with a 96 per cent satisfaction rate.

When told that there has been recent media coverage of doctors making errors or taking advantage of their position and asked for their view, 90 per cent of the public still said they thought most doctors were doing their job very well or fairly well.

Other answers show that 86 per cent of the public think that junior doctors should not be expected to work more than 48 hours a week, while 73 per cent think that GPs should not be expected to work the long hours that they do.

Asked how often they had visited their doctor in the last 12 months, only 20 per cent said they had not visited their GP at all. Sixty five per cent said they had visited their GP two or more times and 12 per cent said they had visited their GP more than 10 times. Forty-two per cent said they had had one or more appointment with a hospital doctor in the past year.

Commenting on the findings of the poll, Dr Ian Bogle, chairman of BMA Council said:

"Over the past few months I said that I do not believe public confidence in the medical profession has been eroded, based both on my experience as a practising family doctor and the experience of other doctors working in hospitals and in general practice. So I am delighted that this survey, which measures opinion towards doctors over a long period, shows the public still has great confidence in doctors".
"The vast majority of doctors are delivering high quality care and this poll shows that the public recognises that. It is also very good news for the NHS and for patient care that this trust between the public and the medical profession remains so strong".

Technical details

MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 2,051 adults aged 15+ in 163 sampling points in Great Britain from 8-12 January 1999. All interviews were conducted in-home, face-to-face using CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing) Data have been weighted to the known profile of the British population.

Q1 For each of the following different types of people, would you tell me if you generally trust them to tell the truth, or not?

  Tell the truth Not tell the truth Don't know
  '83 '93   '97 * '99 '83 '93   '97 * '99 '83 '93   '97 * '99
  % % % % % % % % % % % %
Doctors 82 84 86 91 14 11 10 7 4 5 4 2
Teachers 79 84 83 89 14 9 11 7 7 7 6 4
Television news readers 63 72 74 74 25 18 14 17 12 10 12 9
Professors n/a 70 70 79 n/a 12 12 10 n/a 18 18 11
Judges 77 68 72 77 18 21 19 16 5 11 9 4
Clergyman / Priests 85 80 71 80 11 13 20 14 4 7 9 6
Scientists n/a n/a 63 63 n/a n/a 22 27 n/a n/a 15 10
The Police 61 63 61 61 32 26 30 31 7 11 9 7
The ordinary man / woman in the street 57 64 56 60 27 21 28 28 16 15 16 11
Pollsters n/a 52 55 49 n/a 28 28 35 n/a 20 17 16
Civil Servants 25 37 36 47 63 50 50 41 12 13 14 12
Trade Union officials 18 32 27 39 71 54 56 47 11 14 17 13
Business Leaders 25 32 29 28 65 57 60 60 10 11 11 12
Journalists 19 10 15 15 73 84 76 79 8 6 9 6
Politicians generally 18 14 15 23 75 79 78 72 7 7 7 5
Government Ministers 16 11 12 23 74 81 80 70 10 8 8 7

* 25-28 April 1997

Q2 How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the way the following types of people do their jobs?

  Satisfied Neither Dis-satisfied Don't know/ No opinion
  % % % %
Accountants 60 21 6 12
Doctors 91 4 5 *
Nurses 96 2 2 1
Teachers 85 8 5 2
The Police 71 14 15 1
Politicians generally 33 26 39 2
Government Ministers 33 25 39 2
Dentists 86 6 6 2
Lawyers 58 21 14 7
Judges 59 19 15 7

Q3 Which, if any, of the types of people on this card, do you feel, are underpaid for the job they do?

  %
Nurses 91
Teachers 53
The Police 25
Doctors 23
Dentists 4
Politicians generally 2
Accountants 1
Government Ministers 1
Lawyers 1
Judges 1
None of these 4
Don't know 2

Q4 How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements about doctors?

  Agree Neither Disagree Don't know / No opinion
  % % % %
When you don't get your own GP at night, you are not getting the same quality of care. 36 13 43 8
GPs should not be expected to work the long hours that they do. 73 11 13 3
Many doctors think they are above their patients. 43 15 39 3
If you want to be sure that you are getting the best treatment, you need to see a hospital consultant and not someone less senior. 48 14 34 4
Consultants do not take enough care when they are operating. 15 22 53 10
Junior doctors should not be expected to work more than 48 hours a week. 86 5 8 1
Junior doctors are inadequately supervised. 53 21 12 15
Doctors are no more and no less likely to make a mistake than you or I. 74 9 15 2
Doctors are more interested in private practice than the NHS. 36 22 35 7

Q5 As you may have heard or read, there has been a lot of media coverage recently about doctors making errors or taking advantage of their position. Thinking now about those stories and taking your answer from this showcard, how well or badly would you say that most doctors do their job nowadays?

  %
Very well 29
Fairly well 61
Neither well nor badly 7
Fairly badly 2
Very badly *
Well 90
Badly 2
Don't know/ No opinion 1

Q6 How many times in the past twelve months or so have you personally ...

  None Once 2 to 3 times 4 to 5 times 6 to 10 times Over 10 times Don't know / Can't remember
  % % % % % % %
... visited your GP's surgery to see your GP or family doctor. 20 17 30 12 9 12 *
... had an appointment with a hospital doctor. 58 17 14 5 3 3 *

Q7 How many times in the past twelve months, or so, have you taken a dependent e.g. a child, elderly relative etc ...

  None Once 2 to 3 times 4 to 5 times 6 to 10 times Over 10 times Don't know / Can't remember
  % % % % % % %
... to visit their GP's surgery to see their GP or family doctor. 63 7 12 6 4 6 1
... to an appointment with a hospital doctor. 71 11 10 3 2 2 1

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