A purse and money
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Should NHS budget be ring-fenced?

By midnight last night Cabinet ministers had to have submitted their proposals to the chancellor as to how they would cut their budgets by another 8% on average.

That applies to all government departments except for the NHS, schools and foreign aid - they will be ring-fenced.

However, some argue that allowing those department to bear some of the brunt of the cuts would lessen the cuts elsewhere.

Nick Robinson, the BBC's political editor, outlined both sides of the debate.

Speaking to the Today programme's Sarah Montague, former Labour health minister Lord Warner gave his view that it is time to end the special treatment of the NHS.

The problem with the ring-fence is that it "creates the illusion in the NHS that people don't have to change the way they deliver services," he explained.

John Appelby, chief economist of the King's Fund, said that "pressure in certainly felt by hospitals and staff in the NHS".

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Wednesday 1 May 2013.

  • 01 May 2013