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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Half of public would pay more tax to improve NHS

It has been found that 50% of the UK general public would pay more national insurance to help improve NHS services, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Increased taxes could help the NHS's funding difficulties ©iStock
Increased taxes could help the NHS's funding difficulties ©iStock

Their research found that a quarter of people would be opposed to the suggestion of paying more tax, with the quality of health services taking priority over balancing the books for 76% of people.

This comes after it was reported in November last year that the financial performance of NHS bodies had worsened by more than three times since 2014-2015, and there is now an estimated £22bn black hole forecast between patient’s needs and resources by 2020.

PwC health industries leader, Quentin Cole, said: “The public is well aware of the funding difficulties the NHS is facing and that things have to change if the £22bn funding gap is to be closed.

“Our polling shows that people are prepared to play their part in dealing with the resource challenge by entertaining paying more tax or rationing services.”

PwC’s research involved polling 2,000 people about the performance of the NHS and their preferred options for easing financial pressure on the UK’s public health services.

Only 16% believe that the NHS has become more efficient in the past five years, with 45% thinking that it has not.

Immunisation becoming compulsory, where it is known to prevent illness, was the most popular suggestion for 66% of respondents as a way of reducing the financial burden on the NHS.

The second most popular was for people who have been given advice to lose weight to help their condition not to receive any further treatment until they have done so.

The government has said that it intends to ease the pressure on the NHS through efficiency savings, however analysis by the Health Foundation last year found that only £1bn in savings were made in 2015.

The foundation’s director of research and economics, Anita Charles, said: “The health system is substantially off-target with its efficiency plan.

“What is now crucial is a comprehensive plan with clear accountability for how these savings can be achieved in reality.

“Patients and the public also need assurance that these savings will be genuine efficiencies and not simply reductions in quality.

The PwC research also found that the majority of people believe health services should remain free at the point of use, although 26% think treatment of conditions that are caused by lifestyle choices, should be part-funded by the patient.