Ahead of his Autumn Statement on Wednesday, Chancellor George Osborne has unveiled plans for an extra £2 billion cash boost for the NHS.

Speaking on BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show, Mr Osborne said that “because we have a strong economy and we have got the public finances under control, we can afford to put £2 billion into the frontline of the NHS across the UK”. He went on to say “this is a down payment on the NHS's own long-term plan. It shows you can have a strong NHS if you have a strong economy”.

The move was welcomed by Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, whose own five-year plan calling for an extra £8 billion a year above inflation by 2020 was published last month. He said “we know times are tight, but the economy is now growing. Sustaining a high quality health service in the years ahead will therefore require both challenging new efficiencies and genuine new investment”.

He added: “That's the case I’ve been making on behalf of the NHS to government, and today they've listened and responded with the funding we need for next year to sustain frontline NHS services and kick-start transformation”. Mr Stevens concluded by saying “of course there will still be pressures and difficult choices, but the government has played its part and the NHS will step up and play our part too. Today represents an extremely welcome vote-of-confidence in the NHS’ own five year plan”.

Others are less impressed. The Labour Party, saying it would match the extra cash and top it up with another £2.5 billion a year for the NHS from its proposed Time to Care fund, argued that of the £2 billion mentioned, some £750 million is not new money but cash re-allocated from within the Department of Health.

Mr Osborne also announced that £1.1 billion would be spent over four years modernising GP surgeries. He said the cash will come from fines imposed on banks after the Libor foreign exchange rate-rigging scandal.