Spending on the NHS fell by more than £700m last year, despite more resources being available to the service.
Official Treasury figures show spending was cut from £102,751m in 2009-10 to £101,985m in the year ending in April. It suggests the NHS may be making deeper cuts than are necessary to meet the tight spending settlement, with a potential to affect patient care.
Yesterday The Independent revealed that Primary Care Trusts were increasingly rationing "non- urgent" operations and patients being denied the chance of choosing where to have their operations.
Labour said the spending shortfall showed that David Cameron had broken his pledge not to cut the NHS and to increase funding every year in real terms. The Conservatives said the period covered the final year of Labour's NHS spending plans. Spending was expected to rise in the first year of their Spending Review.