Scores of NHS organisations reported end-of-year financial surpluses that were at least 25 per cent wide of their initial forecasts.
The NHS has reported a£1.66bn surplus in its draft accounts for 2007-08, slightly lower than the£1.79bn forecast since November.
But the accuracy of the overall forecast masked significant variation between organisations' individual predictions, with 129 organisations ending the year with at least 25 per cent more or less than they initially forecast.
Twenty-six reported draft surpluses that were more than twice their November forecasts. These included United Lincolnshire Hospitals trust, which anticipated a£1.5m surplus but eventually reported a£12.5m surplus after financial support from its primary care trust.
Seven primary care trusts, including Bexley, Mid Essex, Greenwich teaching and Cumbria, ended the year with more than twice the amount predicted.
A further 15 organisations anticipated in November that they would be in deficit, but ended the year with a surplus. One was East Kent Hospitals, which forecast a£1m deficit but reported a£7.6m surplus.
Bromley Hospitals trust's forecast deficit of£9m doubled to£18m. Forty-two other organisations ended the year with more than£500,000 less than they thought they would. Board documents show that a common reason for misforecasts was the false assumption that they would be able to carry their 2006-07 surpluses forward into 2008-09.
The£1.66bn total surplus includes£42m generated by the 27 new foundation trusts between the start of 2007-08 and the date they gained foundation status.
Monitor has not yet published the draft accounts for foundations, but if the 27 organisations continued to generate surpluses at the same rate, they will have saved another£48m.
The Department of Health published the details of the final surpluses and deficits for the NHS last week as part of its final quarter report on 2007-08. Director general of NHS finance, performance and operations David Flory said: "Thanks to the tremendous efforts of those in the NHS, organisations now have the headroom and confidence to invest in transforming patient services, whilst having the flexibility to respond to fluctuations in demand."
The report also revealed there were 2,223 compulsory redundancies last year, the vast majority - 86 per cent - of them non-clinical. The DH said most of the redundancies were due to the expiration of employment protection guarantees given to PCT staff during the 2006 reconfiguration. Compulsory redundancies for 2006-07 were slightly higher at 2,330.