We understand the pressures the NHS faces, so we will increase health spending in real terms every year.
(p45, Conservative manifesto 2010)
We will guarantee that health spending increases in real terms in each year of the Parliament, while recognising the impact this decision will have on other departments.
(p24, Coalition Agreement 2010)
However, although we all know that this pledge was broken months ago when in the Spending Review Osborne gave such a small increase in funding that a slight raise in inflation has turned the small "real terms" increase into a small "real terms" decrease. And we also know that the "ring fenced" budget is no such thing because the Spending Review indicates that NHS funds should be used to fund social care that is normally funded by local authorities. We all know this, but until now the government have not admitted to this, they keep telling us that the NHS has a "real terms increase". Until now.
The sharp eyed editor of the Health Service Journal, Alastair McLellan, discovered the following response from Oliver Letwin to questioning during the Public Accounts Committee:
The Health Service will continue to be a Health Service that’s free at the point of care. It will continue to be a Health Service that’s universal in its scope, and we very strongly believe that the only way that we can enable the Health Service to meet the increasing demands year by year that are being placed upon it, against the background of what is a very special settlement, namely one which keeps its funding constant in real terms, but which nevertheless is much less large in its increases each year than it had been in the last few years.Letwin has a habit of letting the cat out of the bag, but in the past this was in opposition. This time in government he has admitted that the Conservatives have no intention of honouring their election pledge.