Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley has confirmed the Conservatives’ commitment to increasing the NHS budget in real terms after 2011 while calling on managers to justify the extra spend.

Speaking today at the annual NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool, he said the NHS owed Conservative Party leader David Cameron and shadow chancellor George Osborne productivity increases in return for the funding pledge.

He said: “David Cameron and George Osborne have gone right out on a limb. They’ve said we’re not going to cut the NHS budget.

“I think it’s incumbent to repay them by bringing the greatest possible efficiency.”

He stated his three priorities were equity, efficiency and excellence, and repeated his belief in ring-fenced public health budgets to address health inequalities.

Stressing the importance of efficiency, he said: “The responsibility of people in the NHS to use resources well is probably greater than anybody else’s. I don’t mean anybody is setting out to waste money.

“We need good managers, it’s not about how many managers, to…design services that have much higher levels of efficiency.

“The NHS should be an example in the public services and to the private sector as well in terms of what’s possible to achieve.”

Mr Lansley also criticised the “command and control” structure that he said had led to leadership becoming confused with control.

More power needed to rest with patients, he said, which would be helped by expanding practice based commissioning.

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