Boris Johnson has been accused by Labour of misleading voters over his promise as prime minister to provide the NHS with a £1.8bn cash injection.
Jon Ashworth the shadow health secretary said they are simply releasing previously blocked funds.
However, Downing Street insists the money is new and £850m will upgrade 20 hospitals and £1bn will be for capital spending.
Ashworth said, “Boris Johnson has misled the public and our NHS staff. You cannot trust a word he says, and his claims are unravelling.
“It is now clear this is not new money, but funds already earmarked for hospitals which ministers previously blocked.
“With 4.4m patients waiting for operations and over 20,000 cancer patients waiting longer for treatment, it is a disgrace that Johnson is trying to treat people like fools.”
Whilst visiting the Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, Lincolnshire Johnson said, “It’s part of a national programme that the NHS asked for and I want to stress this is new money.
“I said 10 days ago on the steps of Downing Street, that we would be upgrading 20 hospitals, 20 new hospital upgrades around the country, and this is it.”
Johnson’s spokesman said during a briefing for political journalists at Westminster he said, “This is new money.
“It includes £850m in new funding for 20 hospital upgrades and £1bn of new funding for NHS capital spending, allowing existing upgrades to proceed and tackling the most urgent infrastructure projects.”
Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust think tank, said the £1.8bn is only a fraction of what was needed to deliver the improvements the NHS needs.
Edwards said, “This is a welcome down payment on the staggering £6bn needed to clear the backlog of NHS maintenance but it will only be a fraction of what it would cost to really upgrade 20 hospitals.
“Nobody should expect shiny new hospitals in their towns any time soon.”
Sally Warren, director of King’s Fund health think tank told the BBC, “At one level yes, it is new money, if the Treasury today were not providing this money, NHS trusts would not be able to spend this £1.8bn.
“But another view is that actually, particularly the £1bn that’s been announced today is really reversing cuts that trusts were asked to make this year.”