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12.04.18

More people than ever before prepared to pay more tax to fund NHS

The proportion of British taxpayers who would accept higher taxes to fund the NHS has risen by more than half since 2014, a new study has found.

The latest findings from the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey, conducted between July and October last year, state that the proportion prepared to pay higher taxes has risen from 41% in 2014 to 61% in 2017, with 12% more of the public ready to pay loftier taxes in the last year alone.

Civil awareness of the NHS’s lack of funding has also increased: now, almost nine in 10 people believe the health service has a ‘major’ or ‘severe’ funding problem.

Interestingly, however, those willing to pay for non-medical costs in a hospital – such as food and laundry – or pay £10 for each visit to GP or local A&E department dropped by 3% from 2016 to 2017.

Notably, in 2017 56% of Conservative Party supporters backed a tax rise to pay for the NHS, up from 33% in 2014. Support among Labour Party supporters stood at 68% in 2017.

This support has been echoed by prime minister Theresa May’s announcement that a new long-term plan for the NHS will be published, backed by a multi-year funding settlement for the service.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “The evidence for this is now overwhelming. The public support the NHS. They are rightly worried that standards are slipping. And increasingly – as this survey shows – they are prepared to pay more to fix it.”

Hopson noted that a “proper national debate” is needed on how much to devote to health and care to meet rapidly growing demographic pressures, so people are clear about how much more they will need to pay and what they can expect in return.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of NHS Confederation, said: “The case for more money for both health and social care has been made and it is overwhelming. Just about everyone is calling on the government to act.  

“Without action, our health and care system will continue to deteriorate; millions will wait, more will suffer and some will die. It is now clear that the cries for more funding are unequivocal.”

(Top image c. Alphotographic)

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