Labour have attacked the government’s spending record on the NHS, claiming David Cameron would be “forever remembered” as the man who “cut the NHS not the deficit”.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said the financial pressures facing the NHS were greater than the government “care to admit”.
Andrew Lansley hit back during Commons health questions, stating that over the course of the Parliament the coalition was going to increase the budget of the NHS in England by 1.8 per cent in real terms.
Mr Burnham said: “Treasury figures released yesterday confirmed that he and the government have now cut the NHS budget for two years running, but they reveal something else.
“The figures released by the Treasury yesterday show another real terms cut planned for 2013-14. Don’t their flagship promises on NHS spending now lie in shreds and will this Prime Minister be forever remembered as the man who cut the NHS not the deficit?”
Health secretary Mr Lansley branded the assertions “staggering”, responding that in 2010-11 the NHS budget was set by Mr Burnham and the final accounts for 2011-12 would not be published until the autumn.
He added: “I wish he’d just get up at the despatch box and admit over the course of this Parliament in England this coalition government is going to increase the budget of the NHS in England by 1.8 per cent in real terms, what is £12.5 billion in cash.
“And in Wales, the Wales Audit Office said that in Wales a Labour government over the same period will cut the NHS budget by 10 per cent in real terms”
Turning to the issue of rationing of health services during the Commons exchange, Mr Burnham claimed: “NHS Sussex have imposed severe restrictions that contradict his own department’s guidance called Action on Cataracts, and this has seen the number of operations in Sussex fall from 5,646 in 2010 to 4,215 in 2011.
“Does he consider this fair to older people and will he now take the action his department has promised?”
Mr Lansley replied that the government would “not allow NHS commissioners to impose blanket bans”, adding: “I gladly take note of the example and I will investigate it.”
He said: “But I have to tell him, he wrote to me with a document that purported to have a whole series of examples from across the country, most of which turned out to be fictional.”
He added: “We unlike our predecessors will not accept any blanket ban on treatment, any treatment must be clinically determined in the interests of patients.”