Tories breaking NHS pledge, Lib Dems say

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Kenneth Clarke's Budget broke the Tories' manifesto pledge to increase real resources for the health service, Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, said yesterday, writes John Rentoul.

Mr Clarke last week announced a 0.6 per cent rise in NHS funding for next year, taking inflation into account, in line with the 1992 Tory manifesto promise: "We will, year by year, increase the level of real resources to the NHS."

But the Government's own figures show that inflation in the health sector is higher than the economy as a whole and the Liberal Democrats calculate that the NHS in fact faces a 0.4 per cent cut in real resources.

Mr Hughes said: "It is now clear that the effect of the Chancellor's Budget and public spending statement on the NHS will be that, far from guaranteeing a secure future, the NHS is about to be squeezed."