Burnham calls for NHS funding cuts
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has urged the Government to ditch its pledge to deliver annual real-terms funding increases for the NHS every year of this Parliament.
Mr Burnham warned that the promise - which sets the Department of Health aside from almost all Whitehall departments, facing swingeing cuts - would mean the axe coming down even harder on other areas, including social care.
He said that Prime Minister David Cameron's commitment had been driven by political expediency, because of the "toxicity" of health cuts for Conservatives during an election campaign.
Mr Burnham, a contender for the Labour leadership, acknowledged it was "counter-intuitive for a health spokesman to be advocating less spending on the NHS".
But he told The Guardian: "If this goes ahead they will hollow out social care to such a degree that the NHS will not be able to function anyway, because it will not be able to discharge people from hospital."
Fulfilling the pledge to increase NHS spending would "necessarily inflict very large cuts on everyone else, including care and older people", he said. In some cases the cuts would be so bad they would "damage services beyond repair".
He warned that it was "irresponsible" for Chancellor George Osborne to protect the NHS from the cuts which he is planning to inflict on all other public services, warning that he risks visiting real damage on services like day care, housing and meals, which have a direct relation to health.
Mr Burnham has made his plan for a National Care Service, funded by a levy on estates after death, into a central plank of his campaign for the Labour leadership.