The Conservatives have said that a bigger portion of NHS cash should be targeted at illness prevention.

The news came alongside the party’s claim that some areas in the NHS were spending more on management costs than on keeping people healthy.

During Commons exchanges with health secretary Andy Burnham, shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley called for “less bureaucracy, more prevention”. However, the health secretary accused Mr Lansley of abandoning his position on giving deprived areas better funding.

Mr Lansley claimed the primary care trust in Mr Burnham’s Leigh constituency was spending just £31 per head on its preventative “healthy individuals” programme at a time when £39 per head was going on management costs. The Tory said: “What is needed is higher public health budgets to go to the areas with the poorest health. Less bureaucracy, more prevention.”

The health secretary replied: “It is our policy that we allow local PCTs to decide where they spend the money on the areas that they think will have most impact - be it prevention, be it cancer.”