Former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley promised that the health budget would rise indefinitely over the coming years – but his successor, Jeremy Hunt, refuses to make any such promise.

Given how unpopular Mr Lansley was with great swathes of the health service over his controversial Health and Social Care Act, Mr Hunt’s mental armour will need to be in tip-top condition if he persists with this line of thinking.

His comments on NHS finances were made in an interview with The Spectator.

He told the magazine: “I don’t think it’s possible to make a prediction [on the NHS budget] because there is so much uncertainty in the economic outlook and no one knows what is going to happen with the eurozone.”

When pressed by his interviewer on the subject, he added that Prime Minister David Cameron is “passionately committed” to the NHS, but that “we would also need to have a look at the economic situation – it’s something that is very difficult to predict”.

He also said in the interview that he was convinced that the Tories had just as much to offer the NHS as the Labour Party.

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Mr Hunt has previously come under fire for voting to reduce the abortion time limit and signing a letter in support of homeopathy.

Reacting to the news of his appointment, Labour MP Angela Smith tweeted: “Worrying that Hunt sent to Health given that he’s anti abortion and anti stem cell research.”

He was also criticised for his handling of News Corporation's bid for BSkyB earlier this year.