People in Portsmouth think NHS services are most in need of extra cash – and they’re willing to pay extra income tax to fund it.
In September, The News launched its Big City Survey in which we asked city residents to comment on a series of topics.
And when asked what area needed the most increase in spending by the local authority/government, 68 per cent of people chose hospitals, GPs and dental practices.
The question listed a number of other sectors from policing, social care, education and public transport and asked respondents to pick their top three.
Policing was the second-highest with 53 per cent while social care was a close third with 52 per cent of votes.
And as well as people saying health needed more cash, they said they would be happy paying more to fund better healthcare.
Shifting resources could result in a more effective health and care system.Councillor Luke Stubbs
When asked, 74 per cent of people said they would be willing to pay an extra 1p income tax if it improved health services.
Other findings from the survey found that nearly two-thirds of people agreed they had struggled to get an appointment with their GP in the last year while a third had struggled to get a hospital appointment.
When asked if more healthcare was needed in homes and the community rather than hospitals, 64 per cent of people agreed.
Healthwatch Portsmouth works with patients to ensure their voices are heard when it comes to health services.
A spokesman said: ‘Gathering patient and public opinion enables us to contribute to decision making to improve health and care services.
‘Difficulty with accessing hospital-based services and obtaining timely GP appointments have been current themes we receive feedback on as well as the difficulty in accessing community-based advocacy services for people with learning disabilities and people with long-term mental health conditions.
‘In general people have told us that community-based healthcare needs more funding, in particular mental health care.
‘They have also said additional support should be provided for social care, particularly relating to mental health conditions.’
Councillor Luke Stubbs, cabinet member for adult social care at Portsmouth City Council, said squeezes to local government had added to the health issues.
‘NHS budgets have been protected through the austerity programme and even though that is not enough to meet demographic pressures, they have fared far better than many other parts of the public sector,’ he said.
‘Local government has seen the tightest squeeze, with budgets roughly halved.
‘Hospital stays are hugely expensive and many are the result of a failure to intervene earlier.
‘In my view, too large a slice of the cake is spent there, leaving community services, including doctors’ practices, under-resourced.
‘Shifting resources could result in a more effective health and care system.’
But Cllr Stubbs said unless health services are reformed first, taxes would need to rise considerably to make a significant difference.
Labour MP for Portsmouth South Stephen Morgan said it was a testament to the city that they would pay more to fund services.
But he said they should not have to, and the government should invest more.
‘Our NHS isn’t getting the care it needs and people in Portsmouth are right to ask for more from the government,’ he said.
‘It is testament to the generous spirit of our great city that so many people are willing to pay more to save our public services.
‘However, they shouldn’t have to; ordinary working people already contribute a huge amount to our economy.’
Portsmouth North Tory MP Penny Mordaunt said since becoming an MP in 2010, health has always been a priority for her constituents.
She said: ‘I don’t disagree with these findings from the survey.
‘There is a cross-government inquiry at the moment to look at how we fund social care for the long-term.
‘In all my time as MP and before that a candidate in this city healthcare has always been people’s top priority.’