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DH announces £1.6bn NHS surplus

The NHS continues to be in good financial health with a £1.658bnsurplus for this financial year, the Department of Health (DH)announced today (6 June 2008).

However, the British MedicalAssociation (BMA) says this surplus has been achieved partly byreducing central budgets for the training of medical staff.

The new figures relate to the NHS financial performance in January to March 2008, and looks back over the year as a whole.

TheDH says the NHS will end the year with an overall surplus of £1.658bnthat will stay within the NHS to improve patient care. This compares toa £515m surplus in 2006/07, and a £547m deficit in 2005/06.

Commentingon the report, David Flory, DH Director General of NHS Finance,Performance and Operations said: "We can look back on 2007/08 withpride. Our performance in 2007/08 has shown that 60 years on, the NHSis still delivering on its commitment to provide the best quality carefor all.

But Dr Ian Wilson, Deputy Chairman of the BMA'sConsultants Committee, says the creation of a £515m surplus for the NHSin England was achieved partly by reducing central budgets for thetraining of doctors and other staff.

"While the hard work of NHSstaff in turning huge deficits into a surplus should be recognised, wealso need to acknowledge what has been lost," he said.

"Thegovernment's insistence on making trusts deliver balanced spreadsheetsat all costs has often eaten into training budgets, and limitedimprovements to patient care.

"In future, funding for training should be protected against further raids by cash-strapped trusts."