The NHS will receive an extra £8 billion over the next 12 months according to a report published by the Department of Health (DoH) today.
The report, Local Spending for Local Needs, claims the money will allow an extra 400,000 new patients to be seen as outpatients and for a further 390,000 operations. It will also help cut waiting times, tackle hospital infections and deliver personalised care to vulnerable people with long term conditions.
Hundreds of new health projects are being planned across the country, notably in Newcastle, Weymouth, Plymouth, Croydon, and Barking and Dagenham.
Patricia Hewitt has claimed that the increased investment is further proof of improvements in the NHS. Labour has been shaken recently by a turn in public opinion that appears to favour Conservative control of the health service. Traditionally, Labour has been seen as the natural party of the NHS.
"The NHS is facing an historic opportunity and this year we are spending over £8 billion more on health services than last year," the health secretary said.
"A lot of people like to knock the NHS and say all the money has gone on deficits. It hasn't. The NHS is now back in balance and delivering improvements in health outcomes, the lowest waits on record, as well as providing a level of care that ten years ago was only offered to those who could afford it," she argued.
The report follows the publication of positive figures about cancer survival rates released today by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
The figures show cancer patients now enjoy a 46.2 per cent survival rate ten years after diagnosis, an increase from 23.6 per cent 30 years ago.
The increased survival rates are being attributed to early detection, greater use of specialist surgery, and advances in treatment and screening.
Over the last decade, the ten year survival rate increased by 11 per cent for all cancers combined, but the rates differ wildly between types of cancer. Pancreatic cancer, for instance, kills 97.5 per cent of those it affects, while testicular cancer has a death rate of only 5 per cent.
The figures have been welcomed by the DoH and Cancer Research UK. The latter are calling for new targets on the subject of cancer survival rates. They are working towards a five year survival rate from the point of diagnosis for two thirds of suffers from 2020. The DoH has backed the target.