Labour Says Cameron Broke Pledge With U.K. Health-Spending Cut

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron broke a pledge to increase spending on health, the opposition Labour Party said, citing Treasury figures.

Spending in real terms on the National Health Service was 102 billion pounds ($167 billion) in the fiscal year that ended in March, below the 102.8 billion pounds a year earlier, according to analyses released by the Treasury this month. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said the spending plans for last year were set out by Labour before his Conservative Party took office in May last year.

“Cameron has broken his NHS pledge,” lawmaker John Healey, who speaks for the Labour Party on health, said in an e- mailed statement today. “He put up posters pledging to cut the deficit, not the NHS, but we see how the Tory-led government has already cut spending on the NHS in the first year.”

The policy agreement signed by Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats after last year’s general election said that their coalition would “guarantee that health spending increases in real terms in each year of the parliament.”

Spending in the current financial year, which started in April, will increase in real terms, Osborne said. He insulated health spending from 6 billion pounds of departmental budget cuts last year.

“This is a massive own goal from Labour -- attacking their own NHS spending plans,” Osborne said in a statement released by his party. “Under Labour spending plans, NHS spending fell; under this government’s spending plans, it is projected to rise.”

Cameron has made winning voters’ trust on the NHS, which provides free health care to U.K. residents, one of his top priorities. He was forced to drop sections of Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill, which aimed to transfer of about 60 percent of the NHS budget from local boards to groups run by community doctors and to extend a competitive market in health-care provision.

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