The Department of Health's performance chief has fired a warning shot over public health targets following 'mixed' quarterly results in sexual health and stop-smoking services.

The department's first quarterly report on NHS performance showed that by the end of June, 86 per cent of patients who attended a genito-urinary medicine clinic were offered a first appointment within two days.

However, DoH director general for NHS finance, performance and operations David Flory said the DoH and NHS 'must continue to monitor this area closely' to hit the government's target of 100 per cent access by March 2008.

On smoking cessation the report revealed that fewer people had successfully quit smoking at the four week mark in 2006-07 than in the previous year.

Last year saw just over 318,000 smokers beating the habit compared with nearly 330,000 in 2005-06.

The report also warned that the NHS must be able to cope with an increase in demand for smoking cessation services following the ban on smoking in public places, which came into effect on 1 July.

Both areas showed 'mixed results', Mr Flory said.

Announcing the NHS's predicted financial forecast for March 2008, Mr Flory also said that although the DoH expects a surplus of nearly£1bn, 22 NHS organisations will still be in debt.

Of those, 13 will be in more debt than the year before.

Mr Flory said there would be 'no compromise' on the need to reduce debts - even if it meant managers had to use the time they should spend on patient care.

'Our priority for all 22 is to achieve and then sustain financial balance,' he said.

Although the DoH has not set a timetable for when this balance should be reached, Mr Flory said the government would 'like to see at least a proportion going forward in balance this year and into next year'.