Wednesday, February 21

Majority of voters back tax rise to NHS fund: as new poll puts Theresa May under pressure



An overwhelming majority of voters back a tax rise to fund the NHS, a Mirror poll has found.

The ComRes survey reveals a staggering 82% would be willing to pay 1p more in National Insurance contributions if the money went directly to the health service.

The findings will pile pressure on Theresa May to pump more money into the cash-strapped NHS.

In a warning to the Prime Minister, the poll also shows voters are more likely to back the party at the next election which pledges extra funds for health and social care.

Four in five adults (82%) said they supported the 1p increase if the money raised – as much as £11billion – was ring fenced to fund the NHS.

Almost as many Tory voters (81%) as Labour voters (86%) supported the tax rise.

The poll also shows a third of voters (33%) would probably change their vote at the next general election in favour of a party which promised additional funding for health and social care.

And 18% would definitely switch to a party which pledged extra funds.

Voters also give a damning verdict on the Conservatives’ handling of the NHS since they came to power.

More than half of all adults think the quality of service in the NHS has declined since 2010 (55%), 28% say it has stayed the same and just one in ten (9%) think it has improved.

Among Tory voters 45% say the NHS has declined, 37% say it has stayed the same and 14% believe it has got worse.

People in England are more likely to have a negative view on their health service than those in SNP-run Scotland and Wales, where it is run by Labour.

Three quarters of people (75%) in the North East of England say the NHS has got worse, 56% in London and 65% in Yorkshire and Humber.

In Scotland 48% say the quality of healthcare has declined since 2010 and in Wales, 45%.

The Mirror’s poll was conducted after Gordon Brown called for a repeat of the 1p hike in National Insurance contributions to raise £11billion for the NHS.

The former Prime Minister warned the health service is in “mortal danger” and could struggle to survive in its present form without an emergency injection of funds similar to the 1p rise he introduced as Chancellor in 2002.

The NHS will soon need an extra £40billion of funding a year, rising to £95billion by the 2030s.

At the same time it is having to cater for an ageing population which see more than 4.4million people aged 65 or over by 2033-34

Britain’s most senior doctors last night (TUE) welcomed the poll findings and called for urgent action to implement the 1p tax rise. Dr Kailash Chand, honorary vice president of the British Medical Association, said the results showed Brits were prepared to pay more to save the NHS.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror in a personal capacity, Dr Chand said: “The results from this poll could not be clearer. I’m very pleased because they show the vast majority of people in this country still believe the NHS is one of our most precious assets – and they are prepared to pay more to save it.

More people are being seen by the NHS than ever before, with a rising population and soaring demand with people living longer. Yet funding of the health service since 2010 has simply not kept pace.

The results of this poll will also send a powerful message to politicians that the public believe the NHS is in such urgent need of funds, they are prepared to pay more for the NHS. But this cannot be the only solution. The Government must urgently raise real spending rises on the heath service to at least 4% a year.

Dr JS Bramah, a Consultant Psychiatrist and chairman of the British Association Of Physicians of Indian Origin, said the Government needed to “act now” to reverse Tory cuts to the NHS.

Speaking in a personal capacity, he said: “It is reassuring that even during these stressful financial times people cherish the NHS sufficiently to dig deep into their pockets for its survival.

We need to act now to reverse the damage caused by austerity and senseless reforms, so that patients can access and get the quality services they deserve from struggling mental health services, general practices and A&Es.

In a recent report for the IPPR, the NHS surgeon and former Labour Health Minister Lord Darzi has also backed an increase in National Insurance to fund the NHS. He said it was a small price to pay for a more civilised and caring society.

The move is also supported by former Tory Health Minister Lord Prior who said it would provide the NHS with the long-term funding settlement that it needs to be fit for the 2020s.

A growing number of Tory MPs have also demanded the Government increases taxes to fund the NHS.Former minister Nick Boles has called for National Insurance contributions to be set aside solely for health and social care.

He said it would be foolish to delude ourselves that we can meet the legitimate demands for high-quality care without spending more money.

Judith Jolly MP, the Lib Dem Heath Spokesperson, also welcomed the findings. She said: This poll shows the public are overwhelmingly in favour of paying more for their NHS, no doubt because they are aware of the lack of resources for our hard working doctors and nurses.

While Labour and the Conservatives dodge the issue, Liberal Democrats alone have proposed a tax rise to support the NHS. Indeed, under our plans we would inject £6 billion into NHS and social care services.

We know the time has come for a new approach to NHS funding. The public agree with us, so let’s get on with it.