An NHS tax that was proposed by the Liberal Democrats has
been supported by senior Labour politicians as a solution to the current crisis
in health care funding. With a £30bn black hole in NHS finances forecast for
the next 5 years, there is a general consensus among the two parties that a
radical shake-up is needed.
Health care service budgets have so far been ring-fenced from cuts, though the
majority of services have relied more heavily on efficiency in saving money.
However, a recent report by the King Fund has estimated that a quarter of NHS
trusts are already running in the red, and with an ever-growing population,
this may create even more stress on care services. With current salary
freezes, management cuts, and reductions in the prices paid to hospitals, the
report claims that standard means of cost reduction have almost been exhausted.
Former coalition Health Minister Paul Burstow is just one of the senior Liberal
Democrats believed to be in favor of the proposed tax, along with current
Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb. Both agree that this proposal is
the best way to secure the NHS’s future.
In an essay to be published by the Social Market Foundation as part of an
upcoming report for the NHS, Burstow states that further efficiency savings are
imperative and increased funding is required urgently. He writes: "By 2021, the NHS will be looking at a
£30bn black hole. Social care is on track for a £7bn shortfall.”
The current Education Minister David Laws, who is in charge of drawing up the
Liberal Democrat manifesto, is understood to be examining the proposal.