More than a third of people believe higher taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and unhealthy food would be the most effective way of cutting NHS spending, a survey has found.

If the money spent on healthcare has to be reduced while maintaining the same quality of care, 35% of people think higher taxes should be the answer.

Almost one in five (19%) support moving more treatments from hospitals into the community and people’s homes, while just 11% think NHS staff numbers should be cut.

Almost one in eight (12%) said there should be a bigger role for private companies in providing NHS care, but just 8% were in favour of closing some district hospitals in favour of super-centres specialising in disease areas.

Despite government reassurances, only 15% of the 3,000 people questioned believe ministers will not cut spending on the NHS over the next four years.

While the NHS has been told to find up to £20 billion of efficiency savings, the coalition Government has promised to increasing NHS spending in real terms.

The latest poll was commissioned by Philips Electronics for its forthcoming report, Philips Health & Well-being Index.

Katy Hartley, director of the Philips Centre for Health & Well-being, said: “Clearly the British public remains sceptical as to whether the NHS can remain unaffected by any potential spending cuts.

Surprisingly, our research suggests that people are more prepared to see taxes on unhealthy lifestyles go up, or more healthcare delivered in the home.”