A new report claims that the NHS will underspend by a record £1.8bn in 2007-08.
According to the Health Service Journal (HSJ), which published the report, that figure is more than triple the £510m surplus which was recorded in 2006-07.
The HSJ suggests that the figure is partly made up of money which has been “top-sliced” by Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) from the budgets of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs).
Today’s HSJ figure comes as Hospital Doctor magazine reported that millions of pounds have been cut from NHS training budgets in the last two years.
It said SHAs took almost £360m from last year’s training budgets, more than double the amount the year before.
The figures, released by the Department of Health, show that £357.5m was taken from NHS education and training budgets for 2006-07, up from £150m in 2005-06, the magazine reported.
Commenting on the figures published in the HSJ, King’s Fund chief economist John Appleby said: “An underspend by that amount will be seen as just as bad as an overspend.
“Parliament does not approve of large NHS underspends as it commits those resources for health spending, not to just sit there.”
Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “The Government’s approach to the NHS has been one of boom and bust.
“These figures suggest that the NHS still lacks the kind of financial control that is necessary for greatest efficiency and effectiveness.”
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