50% of the public would pay more tax to improve NHS services

Published at 00:01 AM on 25 January 2017

New research published today, by PwC, reveals that half the general public would pay more national insurance to help improve NHS services. Only a quarter of people are opposed to the suggestion.

The research, commissioned by PwC, looks at public opinion on the NHS at a time when the service is under significant financial and demand pressures. These pressures  are only set to increase with budgets tightening and people living longer - but with more chronic diseases. Commissioners and providers have tough decisions to make about what services can be delivered and how the future of the NHS can be paid for.

Overall the findings show that confidence in the NHS needs to improve:
  • Just 16% of members of the public surveyed believe the NHS has become more efficient in the past 5 years - 45% disagree that it has become more efficient.
  • The proportion of people who believe the quality of health services should take priority over balancing the books for hospitals has increased to 76%, up from 68% last year.

Addressing the NHS financial strain:

The PwC poll asked 2,000 people about their preferred options for easing financial pressure on the NHS including options around prevention and incentivisation - the most popular suggestion was immunisation becoming compulsory where it is known to prevent illness, except where the person is allergic to immunisation (66%).

The second most popular suggestion from the members of the public surveyed, at 52%, was that people who are given advice to lose weight to help their condition should not receive any other treatment for that condition until they lose the weight.

At the same time, the public is clear that the ‘free at the point of use’ principle must be maintained:

  • Only 26% of people believe that treatment of conditions which are predominantly caused by lifestyle choices should be funded in part by the patient.
  • However, 29% believe that the NHS should not fund treatments that only benefit people by a small amount.

Quentin Cole, Health Industries leader for PwC, commented:

“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.”

This new research complements a recent PwC report ‘Redrawing the health and social architecture’ which looked at the views of NHS professionals in England  on the NHS - seven in 10  (71%) NHS staff in England said they want the healthcare system reformed.


Notes for editors:

For more information or to arrange to speak to Quentin Cole, please call Pippa Vaux on 07753460118 or email on [email protected]

  • The research was conducted between 8th - 11th November 2016
  • 2,000 nationally representative UK adults (aged 18+) took part in an online survey
  • Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.


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