NHS gets cash boost for winter

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The Independent Online
The national Health Service is to get a multi-million pound bonus to see it through its long-predicted winter crisis.

The cash is expected to be in excess of pounds 250m although no figure has yet been determined. An announcement is likely this week.

Much of the additional money is expected to come from the Ministry of Defence with the cancellation of projects one of the main possibilities. The Department of Trade and Industry is also expected to yield up a multi- million pound sum.

The move will be the second addition of funds to the NHS since the Labour Party took power in May, promising to stick to spending plans laid down by the previous Conservative chancellor, Kenneth Clarke. In his first Budget the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, announced an extra pounds 1bn for the NHS and education.

But since then ministers, under pressure from doctors and the health service unions, have become increasingly alarmed at the prospects for this winter.

In an interview last month the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, indicated that the case for more health spending was being reviewed. A senior Government source last night ruled out a raid on the government's reserves, insisting that the overall spending plans laid down by Mr Brown would be adhered to.

He said: "Any additional expenditure would have to come from elsewhere. You cannot just dip into the reserves."

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