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NHS deficit rises to half a billion

8th June 2006

08062006_Cover1.jpgUnaudited accounts released on 7th June show the NHS deficit in England has reached £536m - more than double the amount last year but not as high as initial projections had predicted.

Nearly a third of the 566 NHS Trusts failed to break even but 70% of the deficits were generated by just 63 organisations. The deficit would have been more than £1bn but losses were offset by significant surpluses registered by a number of strategic health authorities (SHAs).

For the small number of hospitals that have overspent by tens of millions of pounds, dealing with the deficit “could be detrimental to patient care?, the National Audit Office warned, adding that some have such large cumulative deficits that there is a question mark over whether they can remain “going concerns?.

The Audit Commission and National Audit Office also both warned that the unaudited accounts could underestimate the true deficit. In 2004/05 the unaudited deficit was presented as £133.9m, but the actual figure, following audit, turned out to be £251.3m.

Patricia Hewitt, the health secretary, had set a target of limiting the deficit last year to £200m. In order to now repay the £536m overspend and take out the equivalent sum by which it overtraded last year (£598m), the NHS will need to find more than £1bn in savings, equivalent to 1% of the overall budget.

To date, over 12,000 jobs have been cut, wards closed and operations delayed as NHS trusts have tried to grapple with their finances.

The BBC have produced a useful analysis tool showing the financial status of NHS organisations around the country. Just click here and enter your postcode in the box provided.

 

 

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