Large surplus for NHS22nd November 2007
The DoH has said that around 2% of the NHS budget will be "left unspent" in 2007, creating a surplus of funds.
Up to £1.8bn has not been spent, according to the Health Service Journal, following an order by the government to "balance the books" after a huge deficit of £547m occurred in 2005/06.
John Appleby, chief economist at the King's Fund, said that a surplus did not indicate that all was well in financial terms, as patients could have missed out.
He said: "If the NHS does end up with a significant underspend at the end of the financial year, that will be a real loss to patients".
Since they ran up the deficit, the health service has been working to make savings, including widespread job cuts.
In October, the DoH forecast a £1bn surplus. Around 20 trusts said they still had a deficit.
At a Commons' health committee meeting which asked questions of NHS chief executive David Nicholson, independent MP Richard Taylor said he would have to return to his constituents and attempt to explain the matter to them.
He said they would not comprehend how the health service could have a surplus and yet still "not be able to fund drugs they need". He added that the rules should be relaxed to allow the NHS to fund drugs.
Mr Nicholson said that individual trusts would have to make decisions about how they spent the money, as it was not the responsibility of government. He stated that the surplus funds seemed to him to be a "reasonable" amount.
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Title: Large surplus for NHS
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 4853
Date Added: 22nd Nov 2007