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Editor’s blog Wednesday 12 May 2010: Agreement NHS funding increases "should increase in real terms each year" - not "will"

The language always matters.

Always watch the words used.

Just as we had Health Secretary Andrew Lansley's journey from "no more targets" to "no more politically motivated targets" during the election campaign, now we can read what the Coalition Agreement between the Liberal-Conservative government says.

There are "should" commitments in this Agreement, and there are "will" commitments.

And what it says on the NHS and public spending is this:
"The parties agree that a full Spending Review should be held, reporting this Autumn, following a fully consultative process involving all tiers of government and the private sector.

"The parties agree that funding for the NHS should increase in real terms in each year of the Parliament, while recognising the impact this decision would have on other departments".

There are another two sections with major impact on health policy, but the first is a "will" and the second a "commit":
"The parties will promote the radical devolution of power and greater financial autonomy to local government and community groups. This will include a full review of local government finance".

"The parties commit to establishing an independent commission to review the long term affordability of public sector pensions, while protecting accrued rights".

There is wriggle room with all this if, as expected, the Treasury's books turn out to be much worse than expected.

'Common purpose' people
I also heard the phrase "common purpose" about fifteen times during the press conference.

Julia Middleton will be pleased.