NHS spending rose in cash terms by £3.4bn compared with the previous year, public expenditure data show. But the government said that 'due to faster than expected savings from bureaucracy and £400 million saving on IT projects', real terms spending had fallen by 0.02%, equivalent to around £25m.
The government said that a £1.6bn surplus reported by PCTs and strategic health authorities would be reinvested in NHS services in 2012/13, providing a '3% increase in funding available to the NHS relative to last year'.
But Labour shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said the prime minister had broken a key elction campaign pledge. 'Today we have it in black and white - official confirmation from the government that David Cameron has cut the NHS for the second year in a row, breaking his central election promise.'
He said that Mr Cameron's promise of no top-down reorganisation of the NHS, a moratorium on hospital changes and the pledge to increase NHS funding were 'three of the biggest broken promises in the history of the NHS'.
However, health minister Simon Burns said: 'This government has met its promise to provide a real-terms increase in the health budget. The amount spent on frontline services in 2011/12 increased by £3.4bn in cash terms.
'While spending has increased on patients, we have reduced inefficient spending, saving over £1.5bn on bureaucracy and IT. This money has not been lost but is being carried forward for next year.'