Theresa May is said to be planning something special for the 70th birthday of the NHS, on July 5.
It seems the Prime Minister wants to show her commitment to the health service by announcing a huge increase in funding.
And there’s no doubt that the health service needs the money.
But the problem is, how to pay for it?
There are two main options.
One is to cut public spending on other services. But they’ve already been cut to the bone, leaving our police, armed forces and local councils strapped for cash.
The other is to put up taxes. But that might prove unpopular with voters - even if the same voters also say they want more money spent om the NHS.
So there’s growing support at Westminster for the idea of a dedicated NHS tax.
It would make it clear to people that the money they are paying goes to a service they really care about, the NHS.
And it would mean that, in years and decades to come, voters had a very clear choice if they felt the NHS needed more money. They could give it the cash it needs, and pay a little more tax, or let it struggle on and avoid the tax rise.
The problems facing the NHS were set out in a report by think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) last week.
It said that the NHS needed a huge budget increase, just to continue providing the type of service it gives us today.
The IFS said: “UK health spending is likely to need to rise by around 3.3% a year over the next 15 years just to maintain current service levels.
“That would mean an increase in spending of around £95 billion, from £154 billion today to £249 billion in 2033−34.”
This increase is needed even though NHS spending has risen in real terms (ie, after inflation) every year.
It’s not true, as some people claim, that the Conservative governments cut NHS spending. They increased it, although Labour increased it by more when they were last in power.
So why does the NHS need even more money? There are a number of reasons.
We live longer, which means there are more old people with chronic health conditions. Wages increase (faster than inflation) and so do the cost of drugs. New medical treatment becomes available, so that it’s possible to help more people.
If we want a health service we can be proud of, we’re going to have to pay more.
But there’s some good news. Our taxes might have to go up, but the IFS points out that incomes are expected to go up (again, even after inflation is taken into account) by even more.
So yes, we’ll have to pay more tax to fund the NHS. But we’ll probably be able to afford it.