The NHS has moved from an overall net deficit to a net surplus within a year, according to the figures released by the government in June 2007, reversing a three-year trend towards increasingly large gross deficits.
According to the unaudited figures released for the financial year 2006/7, the gross surplus was £1.42 billion and the gross deficit £911 million, which leaves an overall net surplus of £510 million. This represents the first net surplus since 2003/4.
The government argues that these latest figures show that the NHS as a whole has turned a corner in its ability to manage its finances well, even though gross deficit (which is the sum of all the deficits posted by organisations who failed to break even or post a surplus) is still quite large (£911 million) and a small number of NHS organisations remain in serious financial difficulties.
This briefing analyses the latest figures and data extracted from NHS trust boards, to assess the scale of the challenges to the financial security of the NHS in the future.