NHS balances books6th June 2007
The government says the NHS has balanced its books - although new figures show one out of every five NHS trusts are still in debt.
Figures demonstrate that the NHS has achieved a surplus of £510m. However, the balance was reached by holding back £1.8bn of extra money due to the health service, cutting central budgets and enforcing job losses.
The budget cuts allowed a £450m "contingency fund" to be accumulated. Statistics from the NHS Information Centre show trusts have had to cut 17,000 jobs in the last year.
Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said the information showed the "tragedy and farce of NHS finances".
"We now have a mind-boggling state of affairs in which individual organisations are in deficit, while the NHS as a whole has amassed a surplus."
Nearly a quarter of NHS bodies did not break even in 2006-07 and show a combined debt of £911m. Figures from the previous financial year showed combined arrears of £1.3bn.
Some trusts face debts which make up a significant proportion of their total turnover. For example, Hillingdon Primary Care Trust in London has debts of £51.2m - around a fifth of its turnover.
Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt, described it as a "difficult year." She stated: "If we had not taken action the NHS deficit would have been double [what it was]."
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