BREAKING NEWS: The Department of Health has been asked to contribute £2.3bn to the Treasury’s £5bn of public spending cuts in 2010-11 - not nice, but pretty much what the NHS was envisaging (excellent expectation management there from the DH then!).

In his Budget published this afternoon Alistair Darling has reduced the DH’s overall resource expenditure limit for 2010-11 by £2.3bn to £104bn. The NHS’s share of that has been reduced by more: down £2.6bn from £104.6bn as planned in last year’s Budget, to £102.3bn.

The Budget also sets out in where it expects the NHS to find new efficiencies. This includes £500m a year through improved commissioning and lower hospital, community care and mental health costs (achieved by an extension of the payment by results tariff) and a further £500m a year through a reduction in the length of stay in hospital.

The NHS is expected to make another £100m saving to its annual costs through collaborative procurement and improving back office functions.

But the word on the street is that the DH will be able to glean most of the £2.3bn - if that’s what it stays as - from its central budgets (“raids” training and public health budgets?) and the £1.6bn or so it has held back from the PCT allocations over the last two years…

I also notice that £1.6bn has been removed from the NHS’s revenue resource limit for 2008-9 (the year just gone). That’s obviously the surplus and I have been assured that taking it out of the Chancellor’s figures DOES NOT mean it is being clawed back…

More here and on the HSJ news pages soon….