Over 50% of active doctors believe that it would be a positive thing if medical school graduates were compelled to serve a mandatory period in the NHS.
But the four-year period which has been proposed by health secretary Jeremy Hunt is too long, according to an online poll.
Only 32% of GPs supported this proposal, despite the broad consensus for some sort of working period spent in the NHS following graduation.
Hunt pointed out when making this proposal that “ army recruits are asked to work in the UK armed forces for four years after their training”.
But most doctors seemingly believe that this would be excessive, forcing GPs to participate in something that they may not be enthusiastic about, while removing autonomy and freedom from their career paths.
Additionally, 42% of GPs believe that UK medical graduates should not be expected under any circumstances to work a mandatory period of NHS service.
So this at least indicates that there is significant opposition to such a move.
But the majority believe that mandatory service is a sound concept, with two years considered the most acceptable period of time.
Yet of the 58% of respondents who backed some form of mandatory NHS service, around 85% would support a a period of two years or more.
Thus, there is clearly significant support for Hunt’s precise proposals among NHS rank and file.
A total of 10% of GPs said service of up to one year was a good idea, while 22% said they would back up to two years.
More than a quarter of GPs (27%) would support at least the four-year term of service proposed by Mr Hunt in his speech at last month’s Conservative party conference.
And 10% of respondents would back an even longer period.
But doctors’ leaders have poured scorn on Hunt’s suggestion.
BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter suggested earlier this year that the government should concentrate on tackling problems with NHS staffing rather than forcing medical graduates to work in the publicly-funded healthcare system.
“Demotivated, burnt-out doctors who don’t want to be in their jobs, will not be good for patients,” the BMA chair commented at the time.
Hunt has already conceded publicly that the government had made mistakes with its NHS workforce policies.