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NHS 3% budget rise predicted

14th February 2007

The NHS looks set to get at least a three per cent increase above inflation after 2008.

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This is less than half of the current growth in the NHS budget.

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt hinted at what the health service could expect, although the Department of Health and Treasury are still in discussion.

Ms Hewitt signalled the end to the current seven per cent a year real terms growth in a Downing Street online web chat, but said the budget would still continue to grow beyond the whole economy.

Experts have translated this into a minimum of a three per cent rise, based on Gordon Brown's pre-Budget report that the economy will grow at 2.75 per cent a year.

The cut in growth is expected to go to education.

Some of the additional cash could be lost if social services spending is frozen. This could have a significant impact on the NHS with hospitals facing an increase in avoidable admissions of elderly patients in need of social care.

It comes as both the Treasury and the King’s Fund look at the landmark 2002 report on health spending. In the report, its author Sir Derek Wanless had estimated 4.4 to 5.6 per cent would be needed after 2008. Both the government and the King’s Fund, led by Sir Derek are separately examining the report to see if the estimate is still accurate.

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