A FORMER minister has claimed NHS chief executive Simon Stevens was pressured into reducing his estimate of the money the health service will need to balance the books.
David Laws argued the NHS is facing a funding black hole because extra money promised by the current Government is less than the amount actually needed.
Mr Stevens warned in 2014 that the NHS was facing a £30 billion black hole and suggested £8 billion of new funding - later promised by George Osborne - and £22 billion of efficiency savings was needed.
Mr Laws, a Liberal Democrat MP and Schools Minister until he lost his seat at the election, claimed Mr Stevens had initially called for £15 billion in new funding.
He said: “The problem seems to be that when he then took that figure to the Conservatives in Number 10, they said ‘you must be kidding, there is no way the Chancellor and the Prime Minister will sign up to that figure, you better get that figure down if you want it to be taken seriously, you better increase the efficiency savings’.
“He did that, reduced therefore the demand to £8 billion.
“We now therefore as a consequence have the NHS needing to make in this parliament three times the rate of efficiency savings that it has made over the last 20, 30 years.”
An NHS England spokeswoman said: “The NHS Five Year Forward View in October 2014 clearly and independently said that the NHS would need in the range of £8-21bn real terms annual growth by 2020, depending on levels of efficiency, capital investment and transformational funding. We stand by this analysis and were not ‘leant on’. David Laws was not part of these discussions, and has no first hand knowledge of them.”