Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has confirmed that NHS spending will rise in real terms but stated that large efficiency warnings were crucial. He admitted that Labour's extensive increase in health spending over their term in office was "not sustainable for the future". Some questioned how the coalition of parties with opposing views on health would affect the big question of spending but the Liberal Democrats have accepted a Conservative "ring-fence" to guarantee real-term increases in keeping with inflation.
During the election campaign, Vince Cable, now Business Secretary criticised the plan saying it would require deeper cuts elsewhere in Whitehall. On BBC Radio 4, Secretary Lansey declared that the Lib Dems had agreed the need for real term increases but acknowledged that it will impact upon other departments.
"We have come together as two parties, each with our own mandate from the General Election, but in order to secure the national interest," said Lansley. Although parliament has immediate plans to begin to cut the deficit and deal with the debt crisis, during the campaign the Conservative Party were very clear that they would not let the sick pay for Labour's debt crisis by making cuts to the National Health Service.
The coalition plan to safeguard the NHS by ensuring that resources and spending are increased each year in real terms, but Lansey warned that just by protecting the real level of spending relative to the level of inflation in the economy as a whole, it will not protect the NHS from the need to secure efficiency savings and to control pay and prices in the NHS.
A plan of sustainability for the NHS is to create efficiency savings in the same way the rest of the public sector is required. Because of the nature of the NHS, Lansley believes that efficiency savings can be reinvested back into the NHS to deliver an improving service. Lansley finished by acknowledging that although this spending plan will affect other areas, it is unsustainable to cut the real value of the NHS budget.