The Government is planning to make £2.7bn of further cuts to the NHS before next election because of a bungle over pensions, according to the Labour Party.
It says new analysis from the House of Commons library shows the shortfall is the result of a Government 'miscalculation' which underestimated the pension costs of all public sector workers by as much as £4bn a year.
The Government has offered to cover departments’ additional costs for one year only, leaving the NHS to meet up to two years’ worth of additional pension costs totalling £2.7bn before the next election.
Labour says this is the equivalent of the salaries of 61,912 nurses.
The party says it is the second time that the Government has asked departments to make cuts to cover a mistake in pension calculations.
Labour says the initial announcement was 'snuck out' in a statement late on a Thursday when Parliament was not sitting, meaning that billions of pounds in further austerity measures have not received parliamentary scrutiny.
Peter Dowd, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury said: 'The Chancellor must immediately own up and commit to meeting these extra costs, not just push them on to slashed and struggling public services.’
A Government spokesperson said: 'We are giving the NHS the funding it needs to meet growing pressures and deliver the world-class care that we all want and expect.
'Under our plan, the NHS will receive increased funding of more than £20bn per year by the end of 2023/24. We will also provide an additional £1.25bn each year to cover rising pensions costs for NHS staff.'