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Majority of public willing to pay more tax for NHS

84% say yes to tax rise for significantly improved NHS

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 05 July 2018

The vast majority of people say they would be happy to pay more tax for a NHS that was “improved a great deal”, according to results of a poll released today by the NHS Confederation.

The representative poll of 1,003 adults across England, Scotland and Wales carried out by Ipsos MORI for the NHS Confederation asked people about their willingness for tax rises designed to boost funding of the health service.

Results showed more than four in five (84%) of respondents said they would be willing to pay more tax if the NHS’s level of service “improved a great deal”, while 75% said they would be willing to pay more for “slightly improved” services and 61% would be happy paying extra tax if it ensured that services remained at current levels.

The NHS Confederation said that the government’s recently announced five-year funding deal for the NHS – equivalent to an average of 3.4% a year increase – was less than the 4% a year that a recent report* from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Health Foundation said would be necessary for the health service to cope with rising demand and to modestly improve.

In addition, it believed that any additional funding should not just be spent on the same services but rather on transforming service so that patients could be treated closer to home.

From the poll, more than double the proportion of participants agreed (42%) than disagreed (18%) that any extra funding for the NHS should focus more on providing care closer to home and less on hospital care.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “The poll shows that the British people are willing to pay more for better care and that there is an understanding we have to change the way we deliver care – we cannot go on as we have been.

“But we must not raise expectations about what can be achieved – there will be tough decisions ahead. The settlement is welcome, but falls short of the 4% independent experts say we need to deliver even modest improvements.

“It is now undeniably clear there is an appetite among the taxpayers to put their hands in their pockets for the cash we need to make the NHS a service we can be proud of in its 70th year and for the years to come.

“Healthcare must be patient-centred, with more focus on primary care, community health services and social care, all of which can help ensure people receive quality care in or near their own homes.”


*Securing the future: funding health and social care to the 2030s. A report prepared by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, May 2018.

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