The government is not cutting NHS funding but “moving money around” to ensure it is better spent, according to health minister Anna Soubry.

She said the last government wasted money on bureaucracy which ministers were determined to cut to ensure more is spent on frontline services for patients.

Her claim, which caused laughter on the Labour benches in the House of Commons, came in a response to a question from shadow health minister Liz Kendall.

She said cancer networks played a crucial role in improving the diagnosis of the disease but despite promises from the government, there had been cuts to the budget of 40 per cent in south east London.

Ms Kendall said: “Will you now admit your government has cut funding for vital frontline cancer experts and broken your explicit promises on cancer care?”

Speaking during health questions, Ms Soubry replied: “My information is that there is only a 40 per cent reduction as a result of cuts in administration.

“That if I may say so seems to be the right way to go about things. This government is determined to make sure that when we make cuts of that sort of nature, they are not actually cuts. It is about moving money around so that money goes to frontline services.

“This government is determined to reduce bureaucracy in the NHS and make sure that patients get the benefit of our spending, unlike the last administration that had it round the other way.”