UK needs £ 102bn boost for NHS, social services, major report says

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UK needs £ 102bn boost for NHS, social services, major report says


Spending on the NHS, social care and public health is set to increase by £ 102 billion over the next decade, funded by steep tax hikes, to improve Britain’s health in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, according to an investigation.

This massive increase in funding would reduce preventable deaths from cancer and heart disease, tackle glaring health inequalities and rebuild the NHS after Covid revealed weaknesses such as a lack of beds and staff, urged on Friday the ministers.

Much of the money is believed to come from increased income tax, national insurance and VAT, which evidence suggests the public is willing to pay, according to a commission of inquiry of four years of the London School of Economics and the Lancet Medical Journal.

“Without concerted action and increased funding, we risk the UK falling further behind other high-income countries in terms of health and life expectancy, continued deterioration in service delivery and worsening inequalities, increased reliance on private funding and an ill-equipped NHS to respond to major future health threats, ”said Dr Michael Anderson of the LSE, the commission’s joint research officer.

The government must seize the pandemic as an opportunity to transform the NHS, social care and public health so they can make much-needed improvements to the health of the country, which still lags behind that of many other countries in high income in key respects, the 33 health experts involved said in a 123-page report that also assesses the health service’s response to Covid.

In the report, which they describe as ‘a call to action’, they called for UK spending in these three areas combined to rise dramatically from £ 185bn today to £ 288bn. pounds sterling by 2030/31, with each sector benefiting from a 4% budget increase for each of the next 10 years. According to their plans, the NHS budget in the four home countries would grow from £ 162bn to £ 239bn.

Their plan calls for the extra money to come from two major rounds of phased tax hikes: 1p on income tax, national insurance and VAT by 2025-2026, then a further increase of 2p. both income tax and NICs, plus another 1p on VAT, by 2030. -31. That would mean someone with £ 25,000 per year would pay £ 6 more per week, and someone with £ 50,000 £ 15 more per week, by 2025/26.

The plan was developed by two highly-rated economists: Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and Professor Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation.

Such unprecedented budget increases in all three sectors are necessary “to ensure that the health and care system can meet demand, rebuild itself after the pandemic, and develop resilience in the face of further acute shocks and major threats to human life. health, ”said the commissioners. But they recognize that persuading ministers to approve such increases will be “a challenge in this time of economic and geopolitical uncertainty.”

“In order for the NHS to be the envy of the world again, politicians will need to be honest with the public that it will require increased taxation to reach funding levels in other comparable high-income countries,” said the Professor Elias Mossialos of the LSE. co-chairman of the committee.

The report highlighted how, despite being the world’s fifth-largest economy, Britain comes only ninth in an international ranking of health spending judging by the proportion of GDP invested, with 10.35% trailing behind the Germany (11.7%), France (11.2%). and Japan (11.1%). Judged by per capita health spending, the UK comes 13th, based on an allowance of £ 3,620 per person.

The report also:

  • Warns Boris Johnson to abandon his planned NHS reorganization in England, which will feature in the Queen’s speech next week, which she says will be disruptive and bring no benefits.
  • Urges ministers and the NHS to redouble their efforts to prevent people from succumbing to preventable diseases in the first place by cracking down on smoking, alcohol use and unhealthy diets.
  • Proposes to end the severe staff shortages affecting most parts of the NHS, especially in England, through the creation of a sustainable supply of healthcare workers.

Social protection should be reformed to make it easier for Britain’s aging population to gain access by increasing the level of savings a person can have before being billed from £ 23,250 to £ 100,000, and capping the lifetime care costs to £ 75,000. Johnson reportedly abandoned the Queen’s Speech welfare overhaul plans, despite his promise when he entered No.10 in 2019 to ‘fix’ it with a plan that was ready to go. Downing Street insists the plans must be announced this year.

In the first comprehensive assessment of how the NHS has responded to Covid, the LSE / Lancet report praises its rapid expansion of intensive care capacity, redeploying staff to care for patients struggling for their life, innovations in treatment and the implementation of the Covid vaccination program. .

But Dr Emma Pitchforth, head of joint research, said that ‘during the pandemic the NHS struggled with poor decision-making by the government, including delayed implementation of social distancing measures, poor coordination with local authorities and public health teams. [and] a dysfunctional test and traceability system ”.

Covid has also exposed “chronic weaknesses” in the NHS, including a small number – by international standards – of doctors, nurses, hospital beds and scanners used to diagnose diseases like cancer, according to the report.

But Sally Warren, policy director of the influential King’s Fund think tank, said tax increases were highly unlikely under Boris Johnson.

“This government has made a clear commitment not to increase income tax, national insurance or VAT. Public polls have often shown that people support higher taxes to support the NHS, but it is less clear whether this extends to related services such as social care and public health.

“Otherwise, there is a risk of repeating the mistakes of the past decade, which has seen NHS funding prioritized but spending on other services that promote health and well-being neglected. This means that improvements in life expectancy have stagnated, inequalities have widened and demand for NHS services has skyrocketed. “

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Affairs said: ‘Our NHS has faced enormous challenges over the past year due to Covid-19 and we continue to support our incredible healthcare workforce and care that has kept services open for thousands of patients.

‘We have made £ 63bn for health services over the past year and a further £ 29bn next year, including new investments to close backlogs and tackle long waiting lists that have accumulated due to the pandemic.

“Improving social protection for adults remains a priority for this government and we will present proposals later this year,” added the spokesperson.

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