The Department of Health says its predicted surplus of £1.75bn in 2008-09 shows strong financial management by the NHS.

But the quarterly performance figures were criticised by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: "There continue to be hospitals whose finances are far from stable as we can see from the number of PCTs who are rationing access to medicines."

The DH's quarterly performance report is available at www.dh.gov.uk