The health secretary has suggested a future Conservative government would meet the NHS’s  £8bn spending requirement for the next Parliament.

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Sunday: Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has indicated a future Conservative government would meet the Nhs’s  £8bn spending requirement, while also stating the need “might be [for] more than £8bn, it might be less.

The figure was stated by national NHS leaders in the autumn as the increase required in annual spending on the service by 2020, if it can also make large efficiency savings.

He said in a Sunday Times interview: “At the last election we were the only party that promised to protect the NHS budget. We didn’t just protect it, we increased it.

“We said to Simon Stevens, ‘How much do you need for your plan next year, the first year of your five-year plan?’ He said ‘£1.7bn’, and we actually found him £2bn.

“We’re now doing the work as to what the efficiency savings are. The gap might be more than £8bn, it might be less.

“That will all be settled in the summer when we do the spending-round discussions. We will continue to spend more in real terms year in, year out.”

Saturday: The Prime Minister is due to announce today that the Conservatives would substantially extend weekend working of NHS services if they formed a new government.

David Cameron will promise a policy which would “see hospitals across England offering consultant-level services at the weekend, as well as during the week”, according to a statement.

It said: “The changes will start with emergency and urgent care services - and supporting services, such as diagnostics…

“The changes build on the Conservatives’ commitment to ensure patients can access GP surgeries seven days a week, between eight in the morning and eight at night.”

NHS England yesterday announced details of the allocation of £350m for developing GP services in 2015-16, some of which is focussed on extended opening and access.

Mr Cameron is due to speak to the Conservative spring conference today.

He will point to higher mortality rates for those admitted to hospitals at the weekend, and to ongoing efforts to extend opening.

Mr Cameron will say: “With a future Conservative Government, we would have a truly 7 day NHS. Already millions more people can see a GP 7 days a week, but by 2020 I want this for everyone…

“With hospitals properly staffed, especially for urgent and emergency care, so that everyone will have access to the NHS services they need 7 days a week by 2020.”

The statement said current government action would mean that “by the end of 2015/16, around 18 million patients will have access to [out of normal hours] GPs”, and that “we will extend it to all patients by 2020”.

NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh has been leading efforts to extend weekend and evening working for several years. Major obstacles include additional staff costs out of normal hours, consultants’ right to refuse weekend shifts, and the availability of out of hospital services such as social care.