Another report on the parlous financial state of the NHS, this time from the National Audit Office, says that health trusts are becoming ever more dependent on emergency funding.

The analysis states that the “financial stress” on the service is "not sustainable", noting that a quarter of NHS and foundation trusts were in deficit by the end of the financial year. Those in the red jumped from 25 to 63 over 12 months, the NAO said, adding that £511 million was issued to 21 NHS and 10 foundation trusts to ensure that they had enough cash they need to pay staff and creditors - that compares with £263 million spent in the previous year.

Gross deficit rose 150%

Other figures showed that the gross deficit of all health trusts leapt from £297.2 million in 2012/13 to £743 million in 2013/14. Some £1.8 billion has been given to 46 NHS bodies as extra cash support since 2006-07 and only £160 million has been repaid.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said an increasing number of healthcare providers and commissioners are in financial difficulty., adding that the growth trend for numbers of NHS and foundation trusts in deficit is not sustainable. He added that until the Department of Health “can explain how it will work with bodies such as NHS England, Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority to address underlying financial pressures, quickly and without resorting to cash support, we cannot be confident that value for money will be achieved over the next five years”.