HSJ’s roundup of Tuesday’s key stories

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Bleak financial outlook

The Department of Health’s annual accounts, published on Tuesday, show the NHS is “clearly in underlying deficit”.

That is the view of Health Foundation chief economist Anita Charlesworth, who warned “the outlook is very bleak”.

The DH’s report revealed that it underspent its revenue budget by just £1.2m in 2014-15 – a fraction of its £110bn budget.

This was despite the department getting a £250m increase to the revenue budget from the Treasury, plus £640m being transferred from the capital budget, as HSJ revealed in February.

“The department will not be able to get through this financial year without a further transfer in capital resource,” Ms Charlesworth said.

NHS England makes the most of underspends

NHS England will draw down a further £579m of historic surpluses to help the commissioning system this year, its latest board papers reveal.

However, the arm’s length body told HSJ it will still have a further £497m of historic underspends to carry forward at the end of this year.

According to the paper, to be presented at NHS England’s board meeting on Thursday, the commissioning system plans to spend its total recurrent funding allocation of £100.8bn in 2015-16, topped up with a further £579m of “prior year surplus drawdown”.

This will give a total funding allocation of £101.3bn, which NHS England expects the commissioning system will spend in full.

Meanwhile, back in Westminster

NHS England trio Simon Stevens, Sir Bruce Keogh and Jane Cummings were grilled by the new look Commons health committee on Tuesday morning. Finance was one of the topics covered in a session that also covered staffing levels, the service’s weekend performance and why managing hospitals is more complicated than selling pants.

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