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Half the public back a national NHS tax

Half the public would be willing to pay an additional ‘NHS tariff’ through national insurance to support the health service, with only a quarter opposing the idea, according to consultants PwC.

A poll of more than 2,000 UK adults found twice as many people supported a national tax as opposed it, while 31% of the public would be supportive of a local tax for their local services.

The survey also found a majority of the public (76%) think clinical quality should take precedence over balancing the books – an increase from 68% in April 2016 – challenging some fundamental policy commitments, including the Department of Health’s drive to wring £22bn in efficiency savings from the NHS.

Around 45% of respondents said the NHS was less efficient now than in 2011, compared with 16% who thought it had improved.

Responses to other suggestions for making savings in the NHS, include:

  • Immunisations should be compulsory where they prevent illness, which 66% of respondents support and 17% oppose;
  • Conditions caused primarily by lifestyle factors, such as diabetes or chronic bronchitis, should be funded in part by patients – 50% oppose and 26% were supportive;
  • Patients who are advised to lose weight to improve their condition ‘should not receive any other treatment for that condition until they lose the weight’ – 52% support the idea, and only 26% oppose it;
  • Patients should look after personal and family budgets for healthcare because they’re best placed to make the right choices with some support – 37% of respondents oppose the idea, while 26% backed it.

Quentin Cole, health industries lead for PwC, 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 they are prepared to play their part in dealing with the resource challenge by entertaining paying more tax or rationing services.’