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Raising money

THE QUESTION: The government says increased taxation is the only way to pay for improvements in the NHS. How do you think cash for core services like the NHS should be raised?

Every government needs to raise money for its services and the only place to raise public money is from the public itself. We pay relatively little in tax in comparison to other European countries and I have sufficiently socialist principles to think that those who earn more should probably pay more to subsidise the lower paid - even if that means I would end up paying more. I would hate to think of an alternative where patients have to pay directly for hospital services because, if this were the case, the nation's health would deteriorate.

Ruth Goudie, 43, traffic engineer, Canterbury Throwing ever increasing sums of cash at the NHS does not necessarily guarantee a proportional improvement in the service received or, more specifically, an improvement in the perceived service received. It has to be accepted that there is only a finite resource available, and this has to be targeted efficiently to ensure that the benefits are maximised. I certainly don't feel that I receive value for money for my tax contribution to the NHS, and would not support even higher taxation to pump further millions into the system.

Neil Harrison, 26, design engineer, Norwich The money should be raised through tax increases to upper bands, with adjustments made to help keep lower pay brackets out of increases. And why not increase the tax on all pharmaceutical firms selling products in this country unless large discounts are given to the NHS?

Alastair McMurtrie, network operations manager, Glasgow The principle of 'free care at the point of delivery' is fundamental to the NHS and must be retained, but it need not apply to all services the NHS supplies. Basic health care - emergency treatment, health education and disease prevention - should be free, funded from general taxation, and should be provided through decent facilities and in a reasonable time.

Additional services, such as treatment of non-critical diseases, should be available at cost. A proper system of national health insurance, in which people could choose the level of extra care they wish to pay for, could be used to pay for this treatment - and also higher standards of care such as private rooms. The premiums could be related to income so that it is not purely confined to the better off, or those funded by their employer. There obviously need to be safeguards for those who truly cannot afford to fund extra care, either because they are low paid or retired, but nowadays, there are few people in this country who cannot afford to pay a small regular amount towards a health scheme. It is just a matter of priorities.

Rupert Whitmarsh, 55, associate Hammersmith Cut the number of MPs, MEPs, MSPs and local councillors by two thirds and give all savings to the NHS.

Jason Martin, 30, project engineer, Scotland

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