On the dawn of the general election in the UK, it seems that doctors are more supportive of Tory health policy than that of the other main contenders for power, a survey by Doctors.net has revealed.

The poll by online medical community Doctors.net asked 282 doctors “In your opinion, which party has the best policies for health in the UK?”, to which 39% ticked the Conservatives, 31% Labour, and, in a close third, 29% chose the Liberal Democrats.

Interestingly, the results echo those of a recent survey of the voting public carried out for the Daily Mail, which also found that support for the Conservatives’ plans for the National Health Service is greatest. However, whether this is because of a genuine belief in the party’s policies or merely a loss of confidence in Labour’s capabilities remains to be seen.

There are several key common threads running through each of the three main parties’ health policies and each is committed to the NHS ethos of ‘free at the point of delivery’, but there are some marked differences.

The Conservatives have promised to boost healthcare spending in real terms out to 2015 and cut administration costs significantly, while Labour has said it will protect frontline health services from the budget cuts being handed out to other public services, though this could effectively mean a reduction in available cash as service demand increases.

The Tories have also pledged to “make the NHS work for patients and not managers”, and plan to create an independent NHS board and implement a payment-by-results scheme throughout the service to drive quality improvements, while the Lib Dems are planning an overhaul of commissioning, to dump strategic health authorities and create locally elected health boards to replace primary care trusts.

And one of Labour’s key tactics to improve the status quo was the promise of securing cancer test results within one week for patients in a bid to foster earlier diagnosis and thereby secure better treatment outcomes, as well as the promise to provide free personal care to those in greatest need from next year.