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Raise taxes to help NHS

5th October 2012

The new head of the British Medical Association has said that taxes may need to be raised to help the NHS avoid making cuts to front-line services.

Pound Sign

Dr Mark Porter said there was a need to re-examine the assumption that the health service could cope with its current level of funding at a time that it is seeing its budget rise by only 0.1% a year and having to identify £20bn of savings.

But Dr Porter, who was elected as chairman of the BMA, said the savings drive was now leading to cuts on the front line.

He said the BMA was opposed to introducing more charges in the NHS and while he advocated raising taxes, Dr Porter stressed it was not a matter for the BMA to say which taxes should be increased.

He added: “We have a huge scepticism that the country has no money left. What sort of society are we in where we are richer than ever but we can’t offer the basic medical and surgical care that we offered only 10 years ago?”

Dr Porter said the issue was being raised at this point because the BMA was seeing evidence of cuts such as restrictions to IVF, knee replacements and cataract surgery.

However, the King’s Fund think tank expressed doubt whether raising taxes was the right move and shadow health secretary Andy Burnham would not give his backing to increasing the NHS budget through taxes.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health said there was enough money for the NHS to cope.

 

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