One-quarter of people believe investment in tech would make NHS more efficient, study finds
The majority of taxpayers in the UK would pay more tax to provide a funding boost for the NHS since the outbreak of COVID-19, but to meet the rising expectations of the public, “considerable investment in technology is needed”, according to a new study by ThoughtWorks.
The results showed that almost two-thirds of people would be happy to pay more tax to fund healthcare in the UK, rising to 71 per cent of people aged over 50.
However, 26 percent believe, rather than raising taxes, technology could offer taxpayers better value for money and a more efficient NHS. ThoughtWorks’ research also found that just six percent would accept cuts in this area in order to keep their tax payment down.
David Howell, Portfolio Director – Public Sector at global software consultancy ThoughtWorks, commented: “The unprecedented challenges our healthcare service has faced in 2020 has led to a fundamental shift in appreciation and support from the public. However, high-quality healthcare designed to meet the challenges faced both now and in the future, comes with a price tag.
“While there is growing preference for tax increases as the best way to meet costs, many can see the huge potential for efficiencies powered by technology. This is the case not just for the NHS, but for every aspect of the public sector.”
This new study comes at a time when appreciation for the country’s public services is at a high, with around two-thirds of Brits admitting they value their hospitals more now than they did before the start of the pandemic.
In addition, the survey revealed that more than half would be happy to pay more tax to improve emergency services, 45 percent to improve social care, and 45 percent to improve mental health.
However, in several areas, the majority of taxpayers believed technology had the ability to improve efficiencies without the need for tax hikes. For example, twice as many respondents believed efficiencies driven by technology, rather than tax increases, were the answer to improving probation services, prisons, higher education and public health campaigns.
Asking respondents to predict what areas of healthcare could become a reality in the next 10 years, almost one-third believed they would be able to speak with their GP via Skype; 27 percent believed there will be an online medical passport; 22 percent believed medicines could be automatically re-prescribed; while seven percent believe hospitals will see robots replace front line staff.
“Technology has been at the heart of the Government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak,” continued David. “Under intense pressure, the recent months have exposed areas of weakness that an increasingly tech-savvy public will no longer put up with. In the longer-term, these inefficiencies will add up, costing the taxpayer ultimately.
“In order to continue to meet the rising expectations of a public who rightly demand more for less, considerable investment in technology is needed.”
When asked which areas technology could make more efficient than increasing technology, 50 percent said public health campaigns, over one-third said social care and 32 percent said emergency services.
Interestingly, the general trend when asking participants about investing in technology to support the health and social care sectors was that the older the person was, the more they believed that investing in technology would be more efficient than raising taxes.