FINANCE: Five acutes and one primary care trust in London are expected to finish the financial year in deficit, according to strategic health authority board papers.

This marks a worsening of the position for acute providers predicted by NHS London in January, when it anticipated three trusts would finish the year in deficit. Two other acute trusts are expected to recover from the deficit by the year end, but the position of a number of PCTs is giving “cause for concern”.

The trusts identified with the biggest variance from plan as of 16 March were Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals with £12.9m, Newham University Hospital with £8.4m and St George’s Healthcare at £8.2m.

Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals Trust and South London Healthcare Trust have smaller variances at £4.2m and £5.1m, respectively.

The primary care trust with by far the biggest variance from plan was NHS Barking and Dagenham at £9.7m.

The SHA said: “We anticipate that five trusts and one PCT will finish the year in deficit.

“We have been providing intensive challenge and support to ensure that recovery plans in each case are implemented with maximum pace and rigour.”

The board papers noted that it is “possible” two trusts that also reported variances this month – Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (£3.6m) and Whipps Cross (£1.9m) – may break even due to efforts by the SHA.

But the papers add: “Conversely, there is a number of PCTs, particularly in north central, outer NE and NW London, where the fragility of the plans to secure breakeven still give cause for concern”.

The SHA identified “cost management issues” at Barking, Havering and Redbridge, St George’s and Barnet and Chase Farm as one of the main drivers for a £3m widening in the overall deficit expected in its trusts – currently totalling £27m.

NHS London said the position had “improved slightly overall” by £9m – in particular due to improvements in NHS Sutton and Merton, which had recovered £3m.

But it also noted an £8m deterioration in the position of the outer north east London cluster “due to activity trends in general, exacerbated by financial management issues in Barking and Dagenham”.

A spokesman from St George’s said: “The trust’s financial projections actually indicate a surplus of around £5m for the financial year 2010-11.

“St George’s Healthcare will have an outstanding loan of £8m that will be repaid in 2011-12; however, this is not a ‘deficit’ and NHS London labelling it as such in their board papers is entirely misleading.”