The vast majority of the public believe that MPs play political football with the NHS, a new poll suggests, as doctors called for the government’s controversial reforms of the NHS to be scrapped.

Almost three-quarters of people -73 per cent- told pollsters that political parties design health policy to win votes rather than do what is best for the health service, the survey found.

Meanwhile, the questionnaire of 2,000 people from across Britain, shows that two in three believe the NHS should manage itself without the involvement of politicians

Only one in three said that Parliament should set targets for the health service.

The British Medical Association released the poll to coincide with the start of its annual representative meeting in Harrogate.

The doctors’ union has called for all political parties to put patient care ahead of winning votes at the next general election.

Doctors are also calling for the Health and Social Care Act, which put in place controversial government reforms when it was introduced last year, to be scrapped.

The policy has been condemned for allowing creeping privatisation of the NHS to damage patient care, with a survey of doctors finding just 5 per cent believe it has led to improvements.

Dr Kailash Chand, deputy chairman of the BMA’s council, said: “The test for any government health policy should be whether it delivers for patients, and by almost every measure the current system is failing.

“It’s extremely concerning that, a year on from the Health and Social Care Act coming into force, doctors believe patient care is being compromised rather than improved.

“The government was repeatedly warned that opening the NHS to the private sector would lead to a fragmentation of services at a time when more joined up care is needed, and this is exactly what we’re now seeing.”