A former head of the NHS has suggested that an extra penny on income tax is required in order to ensure that the woefully underfunded health and social care services are of an adequate standard.
Sir David Nicholson, who was head of NHS England for nearly ten years, is just one of several senior healthcare professionals and experts who believe that an increase in personal taxation is critical to the future of the NHS.
The group also includes former heads of the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
And this raft of prominent individuals also believe that a dedicated, transparent NHS and care tax should be introduced.
The Liberal Democrats have already promoted this policy in the manifesto of the party, although polling indicates that electoral support for the party is likely to be minimal.
In a letter to The Observer, the group suggests that radical policies are required in order to preserve the NHS.
“The NHS and social care are in a state of crisis. Hardworking, dedicated staff, who are fighting to provide high quality, compassionate care, are being undermined because these essential services are being woefully underfunded.”
And the group also makes particular reference to the Liberal Democrat policy, while outlining their particular credentials and qualifications.
“As people who have worked for many years in the NHS, social care and related fields, we know the impact this is having on patients and on staff morale, on a daily basis.. For these reasons, we strongly welcome the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to raise income tax by 1p, to generate additional, ringfenced revenue for NHS and social care.”
The 26 signatories include Dr Clare Gerada, former chair of the RCGP, Peter Carter, former chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, Professor Dinesh Bughra, former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and Nick Bosanquet, professor of health policy at Imperial College, London.
Continuing, the letter outlined some of the other policies advocated by this group of experts.
“We also welcome [the Lib Dem] manifesto commitments to develop a long-term funding settlement for health and social care. Including bringing together funding into a dedicated, transparent NHS and care tax, establishing an independent body to advise on NHS and care budgets, and convening a cross-party convention on NHS and social care to work with patients, the public and staff, to deliver a sustainable funding settlement for NHS and care services.”
Norman Lamb, the former Lib Dem care minister, responded directly to the letter, suggesting that the Conservative party has effectively neglected the NHS.
“The Tories keep saying that they have given the NHS all this money and more money than ever before, but that misleads people. It says nothing about whether it is enough to meet the extraordinary rise in demand and how far we have fallen behind other comparable countries. There is a real sense of urgency because the system is close to tipping point.”
Lamb also noted that even the NHS authorities have explicitly spoken on their concerns.
“The Care Quality Commission has already issued that phrase for the social care system, but the NHS is in a very fragile state. It has had an extraordinarily tough winter without a flu epidemic and without cold conditions. Bluntly, we can’t carry on like this. Only the Lib Dems have a clear and credible plan for how we raise the money and get it into the NHS and the care system.”
However, the Liberal Democrats have consistently polled under 10% ahead of the forthcoming general election.