Britain must stop “fetishising” the NHS budget and give more taxpayers’ money to councils, one of the health service’s leaders has said.

The political mantra of protecting the NHS is damaging the health service because hospitals are used as an expensive way to look after the elderly, Stephen Dorrell, chairman of the NHS Confederation and a former Conservative health secretary, said.

He said that Theresa May could not claim to support the NHS while starving councils of money for social care for the elderly, which he branded “insane economics and bad social policy”.

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