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Two-thirds of public back tax rises to prop up NHS

Around two-thirds of people believe that taxes should be hiked in order to fund the NHS, according to a poll released today by a leading health think tank.

Conducted by researchers from Ipsos MORI and published by the Health Foundation, the survey asked a range of people from different backgrounds their thoughts on the state of health and social care in the UK.

The results showed that many had grave concerns about the NHS being unable to cope at the moment and going into the future.

Out of a group of 1,985 adults over the age of 15 in the UK, 65% said they believed that tax hikes were the way forward for raising cash to support healthcare. This is in line with a Lib Dem policy that pledged to increase income tax by 1p to reinvest back into the NHS.

And 44% of people also said they thought care had got worse over the past year, whilst 48% said they believed the situation was likely to get worse in the next six months.

It also revealed that many people had clear views about problems facing the workforce, as 78% said that they believed the public sector pay rise cap should be pushed above 1% – a point Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has recently argued for.

And despite 52% of the UK public voting for Brexit last year, almost nine in 10 people (87%) said they wanted to see EU workers in the health and social care sectors kept in the country.  

On top of that, half of respondents also argued the NHS often wastes money and could be run more efficiently.

The findings follow a King’s Fund survey that discovered that despite huge winter pressures, 63% of people were still satisfied with the performance of the NHS.

Ruth Thorlby, assistant policy director at the Health Foundation, said: “The NHS is seven years into this decade of austerity, and whoever forms the next government will need to provide additional funding for health and social care if services are to be maintained.

“The impact of this austerity – overloaded A&E departments, delays in getting people out of hospital, and longer waiting times for surgery – has been covered widely in the media, and has got through to the public, some of whom may well have had direct experience as well.”

Thorlbury added that it was “striking” that such a large majority of those surveyed said they were willing to see taxes rise in order to improve the quality of patient care.

“This is not a blank cheque of goodwill though,” she concluded. “Half of respondents to this poll also believe there is waste in the NHS, reinforcing the need for NHS services to continue with efforts to be more efficient regardless of any funding settlement, by reducing the use of agency staff for example, or using the best value drugs and equipment.

“With wages now rising more quickly in other parts of the economy, this reinforces how important it is for the next government to look at pay and conditions in the NHS and social care.”

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