By Steve Nowottny
NHS funding is to rise in real terms for each of the next five years, the new coalition Government has announced.
A document setting out the agreements reached between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in forming a coalition reveals that the Tories' key manifesto pledge to ringfence NHS funding will be upheld, despite the swingeing budget cuts forecast in other Government departments.
The document states: 'The parties agree that funding for the NHS should increase in real terms in each year of the Parliament, while recognising the impact this decision would have on other departments.'
Earlier today it was announced that the new Government have agreed a five year fixed-term parliament, with the next general election to take place in May 2015.
Meanwhile BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum has promised to work 'constructively and positively' with the new health secretary Andrew Lansley - but warned that frontline services must be protected from efficiency savings cuts.
'There are extremely difficult decisions ahead and more than ever, we need a period of stability and a working environment that encourages partnership and co-operation,' he said.
'There is intense pressure to make savings, but cutting clinical staff or frontline services would be not only short-sighted, but could also cause irreparable damage to the NHS.'
Professor Chris Ham, chief executive of the King's Fund, added: 'The confirmation that the health budget will increase in real terms over the course of the parliament is good news for the NHS, although this is unlikely to be enough to keep pace with demand for services and cost pressures. Closing the £21 billion productivity gap we estimate the NHS is facing must be its top priority if it is to maintain quality and avoid cutting services.'The NHS will receive a real terms funding increase in each year of the Parliament The NHS will receive a real terms funding increase in each year of the Parliament Further reaction
To read further reaction to Andrew Lansley's appointment today, please click here.