NHS budget growth to slow to 4%

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Indy Politics

Growth in NHS spending will slow to 4% per year after a period of record investment, it was announced today.

Since 2002 the NHS has had annual funding increases of about 7%, but it was known this would slow after 2008.

Chancellor Alistair Darling announced a 4% a year rise for the NHS for three years - from £90 billion this year to £110 billion in 2010.

He said the extra cash would go towards fulfilling the Government's pledges on health care.

Last week, Health Secretary Alan Johnson and Lord Ara Darzi announced the creation of new hospitals, 150 walk-in health centres and 100 more GP practices in under-doctored areas.

Mr Darling said the extra investment would allow the Government to reach its target of making sure no patient waits more than 18 weeks from GP referral to treatment by the end of 2008.

The cash would also support the much-publicised greater access to GP services and help keep Britain's hospitals clean in the fight against infections.

Total NHS funding has risen in real terms from £35 billion in 1997/98 to £110 billion in 2010/11.

Today's announcement also marks an increase in spending on adult social care.

Overall local authority funding - which is used to pay for adult social care - will rise by £2.6 billion by 2010/11.

In addition, direct funding from the Department of Health for social care for older people and support services for carers will increase by £190 million to £1.5 billion by 2010, it was announced.

Mr Johnson said: "This is a good settlement for health and social care.

"Over the last decade we have invested to increase the capacity of the NHS so that the service is able to treat more people more quickly.

"This settlement locks in that record investment and provides for additional real terms growth."