A new analysis has revealed growing concern among the public over the financial state of the NHS, and support for raising taxes to help ensure that the service remains free at the point of use.

The King’s Fund looked at data from the British Social Attitudes Survey, and found that the number of respondents believing that the NHS has a major or severe funding problem has grown significantly, by 14 percentage points since 2017 to 86 percent.

The proportion believing that NHS care has worsened over the past five years also remains on an upward trajectory, reaching 45 percent in 2017, while just 17 percent thought care had improved over the past five years, the lowest level in two decades, the think tank noted.

Its analysis also revealed that some 61 percent of respondents are in support of tax rises to increase NHS funding, an increase of 21 percentage points from 2014 and 12 percentage points from 2016.

Of these, 35 percent supported a separate tax that would go direct to the NHS and 26 percent said they would pay more through their existing taxes.

Also of note, in 2017, 56 percent of Conservative Party supporters were in favour of a tax rise to pay for the NHS, up from 33 percent in 2014, while support among Labour Party supporters stood at 68 percent.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “It is up to government how it raises funds for public services, but these figures clearly show that more of the public across the UK support more resources for the NHS and that they are willing to pay more tax to bring that about.

“The case for more money for both health and social care has been made and it is overwhelming. Just about everyone is calling on the government to act.

“Without action, our health and care system will continue to deteriorate; millions will wait, more will suffer and some will die. It is now clear that the cries for more funding are unequivocal.”

Last month prime minister Theresa May voiced support for a new long-term funding plan for the NHS.

Addressing a House of Commons Liaison Committee, she reportedly said that for the NHS needs “to get away from those annual top ups of the budget that we see and we do need to have a sustainable long-term plan.

"And that, I think, should build on the work of the five-year forward view, but look beyond it and a plan which allows the NHS to realise greater productivity, to realise efficiency gains."

The multi-year plan should be drawn up in advance of next year’s spending review, she told MPs.