Primary care trusts will need to wait until at least October to hear what their funding will be for the next two years.

The Department of Health was due to announce the allocations this week but at the eleventh hour decided to wait until after the Parliamentary recess ends on 6 October.

PCT Network director David Stout called the delay “unhelpful” as it would impede financial planning.

There are also concerns the delay could indicate a “ministerial wobble” on the allocation formula used to determine what each PCT gets.

The DH launched a review of the allocations formulalast November after wealthier areas in the south argued the current formula gave too much weight to deprived urban areas and not enough to rich rural areas with a high proportion of older people.

Mr Stout said it was important to “balance the concerns of the lobby that say the formula is wrong because it doesn’t reflect existing demand in the shires with those who say it should target funding to areas with the greater percentage of premature deaths”.

The independent advisory committee on resource allocation submitted its recommendations to the DH some months ago.

Sources close to the DH told HSJ recent discussions have focused on how quickly PCTs will be able to move towards their per head funding targets. Although the targets may change, movement towards them has been gradual in the past to prevent turbulence. “Over target” PCTs have not had funds cut but have had a limited annual inflationary increase, while underfunded PCTs have received more.

Senior figures are speculating the DH could still be deliberating over how fast PCTs should move towards their new targets, particularly as funds for 2011 on could be tight.