A senior Labour MP has suggested that the NHS should be funded entirely via National Insurance contributions.
Frank Field made this comment during a submission to a parliamentary enquiry into health service funding.
The Labour MP believes that the NHS is currently on extremely shaky foundations, and suggests that adjustment should be made to National Insurance in order to address the situation.
An immediate one penny increase in National Insurance and further reforms to the tax would help close a £67.7 billion funding gap over the next five years, Field asserts.
This would effectively mean that National Insurance was utilised as an NHS tax.
“The NHS now has a unique place in the public’s affection. They not only wish to support the vision they have for the NHS with adequate financial contributions, but that they are up for a change in funding which will deliver them a better health and social care package when they need it,” Field suggested.
The Labour MP went on to outline some of the advantages of his vision.
“Having a greater sense of control over the money, and the vision of the Mutual members, I believe to be crucial to the next stage in the life of the one institution of the Attlee Government which still commands the affection of voters. This common affection for the NHS carries a huge advantage, at a time of major fracture in our society. Here is the one organisation to which people feel its binding qualities. Taking in the funding of social care marks also a clear development in a service to which the public is committed”.
Mr Field proposed similar reforms in a think-tank pamphlet published by Policy Network last year.
“The reforms will not be the last word on an evolving National Health and Social Care Service. But I believe they offer the best prospect of funding open to such a Service, and one which will raise the spirits of the electorate at this time.”
Of course, there will also be a massive opposition to the idea of significant increases in National Insurance.
But it is obvious that some drastic measures need to be taken, following the recording last year of the largest deficit in the history of the National Health Service.
Two-thirds of NHS trusts are now reporting deficits, according to a National Audit Office report released last week.
And the level of deficits increased by 185% over the previous financial year.