Tories promise 'rising real-terms expenditure' for NHS

Shadow Conservative health secretary Andrew Lansley has promised 'rising real-terms expenditure' in the NHS beyond 2011 should the Conservatives come to power.

At an NHS Confederation conference dominated by estimates of a £15bn funding shortfall beyond 2011, Mr Lansley told delegates on Wednesday that shadow Conservative chancellor George Osborne was ‘going out on a limb’ by ruling out NHS budget cuts.

Labour has not confirmed spending plans for beyond 2011, but plans to reduce funding to individual departments by 7%.

The NHS Confederation announced yesterday if such cuts affected the DoH, it would equate to reduction in spending of £8-10bn within three years and £15bn by 2016.

Mr Lansley told delegates in Liverpool that GPs would be in charge of real NHS budgets within 12 months of the Conservatives winning an election.

Mr Lansley told delegates in Liverpool that his policy to put GPs in charge of NHS resources would make savings, although he said there were still ‘issues with the BMA we have to get over, unsurprisingly’.

Speaking earlier at the conference, NHS chief executive David Nicholson could not rule out the possibility of restricting non-essential services in the NHS.

‘Once we’ve dealt with procurement, once we’ve dealt with variation in primary care, once we’ve looked at efficiency – then we should have a discussion about that,’ he said. 

NHS Confederation chief executive Steve Barnett told the conference ‘radical action’ was needed to address the funding shortfalls, and ‘nothing can be off limits.’

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