Almost two-thirds of doctors feel less “empowered” than they did before the government’s controversial health reforms, a new poll suggests.

Ministers said that the 2012 Health and Social Care Act would put doctors in the driving seat. However, two months after its implementation, 65 per cent of doctors feel less empowered at work than they did a year ago, according to a British Medical Association survey.

Two-thirds of respondents said they wanted to make changes or improvements in the last year but were unable to, with red tape and lack of capacity listed as the top barriers to making enhancements.

The figures, released at the start of the BMA’s annual representative meeting in Edinburgh, also found that of the 1,000 doctors surveyed many were feeling the strains of the job, with 81 per cent describing pressure at work as ‘high’.

Of all those surveyed, GPs reported the highest level of pressure, the poll found.

Dr Mark Porter, chair of council at the BMA, said: “Despite the huge and relentless pressures they face, many doctors remain enthusiastic and motivated about working in the NHS, and this is very heartening, but it is a grave cause for concern that those who wanted to make improvements to patient services feel there are barriers prohibiting that.

“It is particularly worrying that the pressures so many doctors are experiencing on a daily basis appear to be getting worse.

“The government wants to give doctors more control so they can work effectively for their patients, yet they often find this impossible in the face of an unprecedented funding squeeze, inadequate staffing levels and rising patient demand.

“Instead of directing the blame towards individual parts of the health service when the NHS comes under pressure, we need the government to work with staff, who see the pressures first hand, to help solve the problems. Doctors should be encouraged and supported, not burnt out and drowning in red tape.

“If the NHS is to survive another 65 years there must be a clear recognition that we are reaching boiling point with patient demand. There must also be a greater focus on integrating health and social care, rather than the continuing obsession of having a competitive market in health.”