THE majority of Scots think the Tory government is most responsible for the crisis gripping the NHS, an exclusive new poll has found.

The Find Out Now survey suggested that 56% of people in Scotland point the finger at Westminster for the critical issues in the health service – while just 16% say that the Scottish Government has the most responsibility.

READ MORE: Brexit, austerity, Covid: Why is Scotland's NHS gripped by crisis?

Just 1% of people said that NHS frontline staff were most to blame for the crisis, while 9% said NHS management.

A further 10% of Scots said the crisis in the NHS was mostly due to "external factors" such as Covid-19 or Brexit.

The National:

Subsamples from the poll suggest that the Westminster government was held up as most responsible for the NHS crisis by every voting group except for Conservatives.

Among those who voted Tory in 2019, just 16% said the London government was to blame for the Scottish NHS crisis while 38% pointed the finger at the Edinburgh government.

The majority of 2019 SNP voters (87%), Labour voters (54%), LibDem voters (51%), and non-voters (51%) all said the lion’s share of the blame lay with Westminster.

Among Labour and LibDem voters, 27% and 28% respectively laid the blame at the feet of the SNP government, while 10% of non-voters did so.

As well as asking who people hold “most responsible for the current NHS crisis”, Scots were also asked who or what they think is “least responsible”.

The National:

Just 4% of people said that the Westminster government was the least responsible, while 10% of Scots answered the Scottish Government.

Two-thirds of respondents (66%) said the NHS frontline staff held the least responsibility for the crisis, while 5% said NHS management and another 5% said external factors.

The UK Government did not respond when sent the results of the poll and asked for comment.

It comes after an Ipsos poll also published on Wednesday found that the health service has overtaken the economy and fears around inflation to become the most important issue for Brits.

A total of 42% of people in the poll said the NHS was the most important issue facing the UK, a jump of 15 points since December.

READ MORE: How Brexit 'worsened UK medicine shortages and NHS budget pressures'

SNP MP Dr Philippa Whitford, a breast cancer surgeon for more than three decades, said the poll results suggested the public had seen the Scottish Government “doing their best to mitigate” Tory austerity.

“Baby boxes, the best start grant, the free prescriptions, the Scottish child payment, free personal care,” she said. “While there will be people who disagree with lots of our policies, I think people are conscious that the Scottish Government is very focused on tackling poverty and mitigating austerity. I think that’s the message that comes out of Holyrood.

“The message that comes out of Westminster is basically from the Tories: ‘our constituency is the wealthy and that’s who we’re looking after’. It’s a ‘devil take the hindmost’ kind of approach and I think people see that.”

READ MORE: Staffing crisis in NHS made worse by Brexit, report finds

Whitford further said that Brexit, which has impacted massively on workforce issues in the health service, was not an external factor but an “utterly Westminster, Tory-led act of self-harm”.

“The number of nurses coming from Europe to the UK just went off a cliff back in 2016, not even after it was harder to come but that feeling of not being welcome after the referendum,” she added.

Dr Maria Corretge, a spokesperson for the campaign group EveryDoctor who works in Scotland’s NHS, said that the Scottish Government did have to take some of the blame for the crisis in the health service.

“There are things in the Scottish NHS that I think have been protected, for example, the introduction of the internal market in the NHS did not happen in Scotland and it protected Scotland’s NHS to a degree,” she said. “But the rest of the decisions taken by the Scottish Government mirror the lack of thought, analysis, and planning [at Westminster].”

She further noted of the results: “I think people sympathise with us [NHS frontline staff]. I think they realise how hard we work, I think people who come into hospitals see how busy we are, we cannot hide it. I don’t think doctors are completely blameless in this, there are things we have got wrong, but not to the degree where we are responsible [for the crisis].”

The nationally representative Find Out Now poll asked 1094 Scottish adults between January 11-18. The Ipsos index polled 1012 British adults from January 11-17.