Debate: In light of yesterday’s IFS report, is more funding through taxes the solution to the NHS crisis?

General Election - National Health Service
We are in the midst of the most austere decade in the NHS’s history (Source: Getty)

In light of yesterday’s IFS report, is more funding through taxes the solution to the NHS crisis?

Yes, says Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation.

We are in the midst of the most austere decade in the NHS’s history. Prior to this period of austerity, the NHS had average increases of four per cent a year above inflation.

We’ve got an ageing population; 4.4m more over 65s in the next 15 years, and many of them living with long-term health problems. This means the NHS needs more healthcare, and crucially doctors and nurses to deliver that care.

But all of this has a price tag. NHS funding will need to rise each year by around four per cent a year – back to the growth rates of the past.

With demand set to grow, much less than this will jeopardise the ability of the health service to provide a high quality care.

We are now in the seventieth year of the NHS, but we face a clear choice between providing a service that is treading water at best, or one that meets the needs and expectations of the British population. If we want the latter, we need to pay the price.

No, says Hamish Grierson is the chief executive and co-founder of Thriva.

The NHS was created and built for a different society than the one we live in today, and the original model is simply no longer fit for purpose.

There’s no doubt that the system is broken and unable to meet the needs of the vulnerable and sick. But we need a systematic change in the way we view our health service – away from focusing on just sick care and towards proactive healthcare which incentivises the consumer to stay well.

Hitting people with an increase in tax will not fix the problem. In fact, the disconnect between what people pay in tax and what they get from it is part of the problem. Tax is a “blind” payment, and the associated services don’t feel connected to the cost.

To see how quickly you can change behaviour when you force people to see a direct cost, look no further than the impact of the 5p plastic bag charge.

We are now armed with more information and digital technology than ever before. We need reform of healthcare, focusing on initiatives that empower people to stay well.

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