Commitments to increase spending on the NHS year-on-year are “dangerous” and will leave vulnerable patients without the social care they need, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has claimed.
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Labour leadership hopeful Mr Burnham said real-terms increases to the NHS budget would result in 25% cuts to social care - with serious knock-on effects.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley denied the claims and said he could not see how Mr Burnham’s new policy of cutting the NHS budget would improve social care.
During Commons question time, Mr Burnham said Labour’s pre-election promise had been to “protect” spending on the NHS while the Tories said they would increase it.
“After last week’s Budget, we now know that the price of that commitment - 25% cuts to social care - will mean vulnerable people left without the support they need or facing higher charges to pay for care, and huge pressure on carers,” Mr Burnham said.
“It also means that the NHS itself stops working, because it can’t discharge people from hospital because there isn’t the support there in the community.
“This unbalanced approach to public spending is dangerous and will decimate services on which the NHS depends.
“Isn’t it time to drop a pledge that had more to do with votes and nothing to do with people’s lives?”
But Mr Lansley hit back, saying Mr Burnham now wants to see the NHS budget cut.
“I fail to see how that could help social care,” he said. “We are going to look much more positively at how we can join up the work of the NHS and social care.”