FINANCE: Primary care trusts in the cluster lost £2.6m through underuse of contracted independent sector providers in the first eight months of this year, compared with £4.5m for the same period in 2010-11, its latest finance report shows.

The report stated that this was a “significant year on year improvement” of £1.9m.

It added: “Continuing the recent upward trend , referral levels increased in October to the highest since service commencement. November referrals although dipping slightly compared to October did sustain the higher levels of utilisationachieved over the last three months .

“This increase should result in increased financial utilisation through the succeeding months.

“The financial position at month eight shows actual spend at £14.1m against a guaranteed payment of £17.1m.However the actual guarantee payments have been reduced by £756k due to the application of penalties relating to performance.”