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Former Tory health minister calls for dedicated tax to pay for NHS

Conservative Party MP and former health minister Dr Dan Poulter has proposed raising taxes to pay for health and social care.

Dr Poulter, who stepped down as a junior minister last year, is now back to practising part time as an obstetrician in the NHS and raised the problems of patients being forced to stay in hospital due to funding shortages.

He said he thinks a ‘health and care tax’, for example by raising national insurance, was ‘one of the simplest ways forward’ to solve the problems.

Dr Poulter told the Observer: ‘On the hospital wards I often see people who are medically fit to go home, but who are forced to stay in hospital because of difficulties arranging their social care package or because of a lack of appropriate housing. Good healthcare cannot be delivered without properly funded social care.

‘A long-term plan to ensure a properly funded and sustainable health and social care system is urgently required, and I believe a health and care tax – perhaps introduced through raising national insurance – offers one of the simplest ways forward.’

Labour shadow health secretary Diane Abbott said that social care is ‘disintegrating, with mounting misery for patients and families’.

She said: ‘This puts huge pressure on the NHS, both in terms of the elderly coming into A&E because they can’t get care in the community, and people occupying beds unnecessarily at the end of their treatment because there is no social care package.

‘The Tories should be fixing the mess they have created and ensuring that the NHS has the money it needs, including looking at expenditure on PFI, agency staff and the inflated drugs bill.

‘The Tories have betrayed the British people by failing to fund the NHS properly – and it is patients who are paying the price.’