Most GPs are sceptical that the government’s planned overhaul of the NHS will actually benefit patients, a poll suggested.

The BBC survey of 827 doctors found fewer than one in four think putting GPs in charge of the health service budget will lead to improvements.

Just 23% said the reforms would benefit patients, with 45% saying they would not and 32% expressing no opinion.

Meanwhile, just 25% of doctors said they would be willing to take on the extra responsibility of planning and buying in services, with 57% saying they would not do it and 18% expressing no opinion.

GPs also expressed doubts about becoming so closely involved in commissioning in specialist areas such as cancer and paediatrics.

The BBC survey, carried out online between 23 and 30 September, found most GPs do not believe they are well prepared to take charge of commissioning in several key areas. These include cancer, emergency hospital care, mental health and paediatrics.

Seven out of 10 also said the planned changes would lead to the private sector taking on a bigger role in the NHS.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “The questions asked in this survey are misleading about the government’s policy proposals.

“We are not asking GPs individually to take on commissioning responsibility. However, if a quarter of GPs are prepared to take on the extra responsibility, it’s a powerful indication of the existing willingness to implement our reforms.

“With two and a half years with which to learn from pathfinder commissioning consortia and establish shadow arrangements, there is ample time for practices that do not yet feel ready to build capability collectively. We intend to put in place support arrangements to help practices develop capability.”