Chancellor Gordon Brown found an extra £250m 'winter cash' for the NHS in his pre-budget statement on Tuesday.

The Department of Health said it was 'new money' and would be allocated to health authorities in two weeks' time.

Director of the Institute of Health Services Management Karen Caines 'warmly welcomed' the cash and the assurance that it was new money, while Unison said it showed the government was 'listening' to worries about winter pressures.

Mr Brown pledged to meet the government's promise to invest£40bn in health and education over the next three years, despite worse economic circumstances than predicted in last year's budget.

But he also confirmed that 'public sector agreements' setting 'clear targets' against which public bodies can be monitored would be issued next month.