Tories in £8bn NHS pledge
Tories have promised to invest £8bn a year into the NHS if they win the general electionReuters

The Conservative party has pledged to pump an extra £8bn a year for the NHS in England by 2020 if they win the UK general elections.

George Osborne promised that next week's Conservative manifesto will commit to " a minimum real-terms increase in NHS funding of £8 billion in the next five years", the chancellor confirmed in The Guardian.

Last year, the chief executive of NHS England Simon Stevens predicted that there would a £30bn funding gap for the NHS in England by 2020.

He said that £22bn required to fill the gap would be found through "efficiencies" and "new ways of working".

But an additional £8bn a year above inflation would still be needed by 2020.

5,000 new GPs promised

NHS England currently has an annual budget of £102bn.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the extra money would be used to pay for at least 5,000 new GPs to ensure pensioners who require care could see a doctor within an hour.

"We want to give everyone the confidence that they can get in to see a GP quickly. We can do that because of the extra investment," Hunt said.

He said that the Conservatives could fund the promise because they had turned the economy around and pointed to investment in the last parliament as evidence of the party's commitment to funding the NHS.

However, the Labour party criticised the "unfunded" pledge and described it as "not worth the paper it's written on".

Ed Miliband's party has pledged an additional £2.5bn a year for the NHS, which will be paid for by a tax on homes worth over £2m, a levy on the sales of tobacco and curbing tax breaks enjoyed by hedge funds and other finance firms, according to the BBC.

In related news, Labour confirmed its £138m commitment to recruit 3,000 extra midwives.