Government must be honest about NHS's real terms funding cut

The government needs to be honest about the NHS's real terms funding cut, shadow health secretary John Healey has said.

Mr Healey: the Government has not protected the NHS as it promised

He said the coalition's claims that NHS funding is being increased depend on an allocation of funds for social care, which is not traditionally an NHS responsibility.

Mr Healy was speaking at the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services. He said: ‘By all means point, as ministers do, to the extra money for social care. But don't double count the credit and don't double count the funding.'

He added: ‘Because when £1bn switched from the NHS to social care is taken into account, the Government has not protected the NHS as it promised. It's not the real terms increase of 0.4% they claimed. It's a real terms cut of 0.5%.’

The King’s Fund has also argued that the government’s plans will lead to a net reduction on the NHS’s purchasing power.

Commenting on the government’s comprehensive spending review last month, John Appleby, chief economist at The King’s Fund, said: ‘Compared to other departmental budgets the NHS settlement is a generous one.

‘But, while the increase in health spending meets the pledge to protect the NHS budget, an increase of 0.1% a year in real terms will soon be swallowed up by cost pressures such as incremental pay drift and the increase in VAT. The net result will be a reduction in the NHS’s purchasing power.’

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