Over half of Scots would pay more tax to fund health and social care

Over half of Scots would pay more tax to fund health and social care, a new survey has found.

The Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
The Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

The Big Conversation Survey was conducted by Scotland on Sunday’s sister title The Scotsman in September.

Respondents were asked to identify key priorities for healthcare and society going forward after the Covid-19 pandemic.

More than 53 per cent said they would be willing to pay more tax to fund increased spending on health and social care.

When asked to choose their top three priorities for increased spending, respondents selected social care services, support for local businesses, and local hospitals.

Some 58 per cent said they wanted to see more spending on social care services, with 53 per cent wanting more spending to support local businesses, and 53 per cent also saying they think more should be spent on local hospitals.

Respondents were also asked about their vision for healthcare in Scotland after the pandemic.

A majority said raining and hiring more healthcare workers should be a key priority in future. Some 73 per cent agreed with the statement that “future healthcare funding should focus mostly on increasing the numbers of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers”.

Respondents also said they wanted to see more community-based services, with 50 per cent agreeing with the statement that “future healthcare provision should shift the emphasis away from accessing services in hospitals to community-based services”.

To make these changes happen, 53 per cent said they would be prepared to pay more in tax.

Scottish Labour health spokesperson Monica Lennon said the results of the survey were to be expected.

“The Scotsman survey reveals that almost three-quarters of people wanted funding to focus on hiring more healthcare workers,” she said. “This is unsurprising, as people are fed up with long waiting times and cancelled operations.

“Social care, in particular, has been badly affected by the pandemic, and it’s clear we need a national care sector which puts people before profit and ends the postcode lottery in access to good quality care.”

The pandemic has seen huge changes made to the way healthcare services are offered in Scotland, and many respondents said they would be happy for some of these to remain in future.

Almost 60 per cent said they would like to be able to access advice from their GP by telephone and 50 per cent by video call.

In-person GP consultations were still the most popular, with 82 per cent saying they wanted to see their GP in this way.

A spokesperson said the Scottish Government was spending record amounts on health.

“It will no doubt be reassuring to Scotsman readers to know that, in real terms, the Scottish Government is spending record levels on health,” they said.

“The Scottish Budget for 2020/21 set prior to the Covid-19 outbreak took total health portfolio funding in excess of £15 billion for the first time, and increased funding for frontline NHS boards by £454 million (4.2 per cent).

“As part of this settlement, we have further shifted the balance of spending towards mental health and to primary, community, and social care.

“In addition, we have confirmed funding of £1.1bn to address financial pressures arising in response to Covid-19 across the Health & Social Care sector.”

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