NHS chief at odds with ministers over budget cuts

Managers told to prepare for cuts up to 3 per cent.

A rift appears to have developed between the DoH and senior NHS management over whether there will be cuts to the NHS budget beyond 2011.

Speaking at the NHS Innova-tion Expo in London, health minister Lord Ara Darzi ruled out cuts to the NHS budget and urged trusts to use their 5 per cent growth over next two years to innovate and reform.

He said there was 'no indica-tion from within government' that there would be cuts, despite NHS chief executive David Nicholson telling NHS managers to plan now for a 2.5-3 per cent reduction in monetary resources from 2011.

'There is no indication I have come across, and I work in the government, that we will have cuts. When we don't have as much growth as before, innova-tion is the answer - that's what other sectors do,' Lord Darzi told GP.

Lord Darzi's stance is in line with that of cabinet colleagues, with newly appointed health secretary Andy Burnham claiming there is no funding crisis, and declaring that NHS funding would never be cut under the current government.

Lord Darzi told delegates at the Expo event that the 'whole £100 billion NHS budget' is available for staff, as well as the £220 million set aside for 'Innovation Funds' earlier in the year.

Innovative technology and service redesign were the solu-tion to the financial trouble ahead, said Lord Darzi.

'GPs are the biggest contributors to finding solutions to these challenges,' the health minister added.

He explained: 'There has al-ways been an entrepreneurial spirit among GPs.'

The health minister paid trib-ute to the use of IT in primary care and called for greater use of integrated services.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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