Actual deficits could rise to almost £1 billion if predictions are as inaccurate as last year. At this stage in 2005/6, PCTs predicted year-end deficits of £301 million. Final budgets show the true figure was £492 million. Similar underestimates this year would leave PCTs facing a total deficit of around £950 million.
PCTs are the only organisations in the NHS to predict a higher combined deficit for 2006/7 than for 2005/6.
Some 13 PCTs are predicting deficits of more than £10 million. Hillingdon PCT in north west London expects to be more than £65 million in the red, the largest deficit predicted by any NHS trust. Total deficits reported by NHS trusts were £1.2 billion, but surpluses and contingency funds held by strategic health authorities balance this out to a net forecast deficit of £94 million.
DoH director general of finance Richard Douglas wrote in a report on the figures: ‘The NHS remains on track to deliver overall financial balance by the end of the current financial year.’
GPC member Dr Trefor Roscoe said: ‘This is all demonstrating that the system is being driven too hard and money is being spent by secondary care that PCTs haven’t got. GPs may not be able to refer, and services may deteriorate.’
Top five deficits
Forecast deficits for 2006/7
- Hillingdon PCT £65.6m
- Kingston PCT £17.2m
- North Norfolk PCT £16.6m
- Carlisle and District PCT £16.1m
- Cambridge City PCT £13.7m