Decisions on NHS treatments should be made by clinicians, public representatives and managers - and not politicians, according to a MORI poll for the NHS Confederation.

Asked which groups people felt should decide on the availability of NHS medicines:

  • 70 per cent said clinicians;
  • 33 per cent said patient representatives;
  • 23 per cent said NHS managers.

Just 9 per cent thought MPs should make judgements, while 6 per cent thought councillors should be involved.

The poll also asked what factors members of the public thought should influence decisions.

Half of the respondents thought the effectiveness of treatment was the most important factor, while 38 per cent said whether the treatment would be used to treat a life threatening condition should be taken into consideration.

Of the 969 polled, just 22 per cent said cost of treatment should be taken into account. Eighteen per cent thought local trusts should consider whether other treatments would have to be withdrawn as a result.

'NHS clinicians and mangers are working incredibly hard to meet the needs of local patients within finite resources,' said NHS Confederation chief executive Dr Gill Morgan.

'It is reassuring to see, therefore, that the public believes it is clinicians, patient representatives and managers who are best equipped to make these tough choices - not national or local politicians.'

However, the poll did not ask directly whether ministers should be involved, despite the health secretary last year urging primary care trusts not to restrict the cancer drug Herceptin, before it was approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.