By politics.co.uk staff
New health secretary Andrew Lansley has said NHS spending will continue to rise in real terms - but that efficiency savings will still be required.
Mr Lansley said NHS spending could not continue to rise above inflation by the six or seven per cent rates seen under New Labour.
He said cuts of around three per cent a year were needed, but pledged that this money would be reinvested to ensure that overall NHS spending continued to rise in real terms.
"Every penny saved is a penny which can be reinvested for the benefit of patients," Mr Lansley told the Today programme.
Divisions between the Lib Dems and the Tories on NHS spending during the general election campaign have been resolved, he argued.
"We were very clear that our mandate was we would not let the sick pay for Labour's debt crisis. We wouldn't cut the NHS.
"What is sustainable for the NHS is that we deliver efficiency savings in the NHS in the same way as the rest of the public sector, but because of the nature of the demands on the NHS we can reinvest them in the NHS to deliver improving outcomes for the public."
Other departments would face extra cuts as a result of the commitment to the NHS, he warned.