Primary care trusts are predicting they will miss their savings targets by up to 56 per cent this year, analysis by HSJ has found.
The news comes two weeks after HSJ reported that 25 PCTs had overspent their budgets by a total of £145m at the time of their last financial reports, and nine expected to finish 2010-11 in the red.
A further analysis has suggested it is not only overspending PCTs that are facing problems in delivering the 4 per cent annual efficiency savings.
HSJ has found there are at least 24 other PCTs that have fallen behind on productivity or financial recovery savings plans, or are forecasting they will not meet savings targets for the year.
Of those, NHS Blackpool was forecasting the most serious shortfall, expecting to make savings of £5.4m this financial year against a target of £12.1m.
NHS Brighton and Hove was 64 per cent behind on its plan according to its most recent finance report.
By the end of November it had delivered savings of £1.1m against a target of £2.9m.
PCTs reported a variety of strategies to offset their savings shortfalls, including land sales, delayed investments, the use of reserves or contingency funds.
The analysis also found at least seven PCTs that are forecasting to miss “control target” surpluses agreed at the start of the year or that have negotiated reduced surplus targets.
NHS Sheffield, which started the year with a £4m surplus target, is now forecasting it will only break even for the year.
A spokeswoman for the PCT said its spend on continuing healthcare had risen by £17m compared with 2009-10.
She added that Sheffield was managing the financial pressure using its reserves, and by working with GPs in the last quarter of the financial year to “reduce non-urgent hospital activity in a number of areas, most notably orthopaedics”.
NHS Brighton and Hove will deliver around £2m of planned savings for 2010-11 in the next financial year. It is using some of its non-recurrent reserves and is delaying some expenditure until 2011-12.
NHS Blackpool declined to comment.