Raise taxes to fund NHS, say patients

Government should pay for long-term healthcare, say 87 per cent of people in poll
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Patients overwhelmingly believe that health and social care should be funded by the Government, and more than half are willing to see taxes rise in order to pay for it, according to a new survey.

The NHS faces intense pressure to save money as public spending slows down, at the same time as experts warn it must become more closely integrated with the social-care system to meet the needs of an ageing population.

In a survey of 1,000 UK patients conducted by KPMG, 87 per cent said that people’s long-term healthcare should be paid for by the Government, and 82 per cent said that social care should also be funded from the public purse.

Some 54 per cent said that they would be willing to pay more in tax to meet the cost of the population’s long-term health needs and a similar number said they would be happy for spending on other public services – such as defence and  education – to be cut so that the health service could meet demand in the future.

While more than a third of people agreed that individuals should contribute to the cost of care, beyond tax, more than half said they had “no means of supporting” their own long-term care.

The survey coincides with the release of KPMG’s new report, “An Uncertain Age: reimagining long-term care in the 21st century”, which blames “historically poor co-ordination between healthcare, social services and community support” for the problems patients face in organising and financing their long-term care.

“Few, if any, societies have truly faced up to the magnitude of the crisis of long-term care,” said Andrew Hine, KPMG’s UK head of health. “All too often, the debate over finance seems to overshadow the scale and gravity of the wider challenge, which is and always should be delivery of quality care for patients.”

Richard Humphries, the assistant director of policy at the healthcare think-tank the King’s Fund, told  The Independent that the UK had to face up to “the hefty price tag that comes with the success of increased life expectancy”.

“Where the money comes from, and what kind of care system we need for the 21st century, may well be the biggest public-policy challenge of our times,” he said.