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Under-fire Reid saved by the bell

Health Secretary John Reid was saved by the bell during a recent cross-examination by MPs on a crucial question about statistics showing tiny increases in GMS funding.

At a health select committee meeting on public expenditure, Mr Reid was asked why hospital spending in 2001/2 had increased by 9.7 per cent yet spending on primary care GMS rose only 1.1 per cent.

John Austin, Labour MP for Erith and Thamesmead, said: 'How can you account for a nine times growth in secondary care compared with primary care?'

As Mr Reid began by saying the figures had been 'wrongly interpreted' and primary care spend had increased 7.3 per cent compared with 7.7 per cent in hospitals, the division bell rang and denied MPs the chance to press him further.

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