A finance report investigating public spending of NHS services has revealed that the commissioning system is on track to miss its target surplus by £184m in 2014-15, with much of the overspend attributed to the increasing cost of cancer drugs.
Following a freedom of information request, the report said that commissioners across England are forecasting a cumulative surplus of £283m against a planned surplus of £467 – with nearly two thirds of the £66m specialised commissioning deficit recorded in the first half of 2014-15 due to cancer drugs overspending.
By the end of September, NHS England had spent £180m on drugs paid for through the fund, against an allocation of £140m for that period. In 2013-14 the £200m fund was overspent by £30m.
NHS England’s planned £467m surplus would not quite be enough to offset such a deficit and would need an underspend in the Department of Health’s centrally held budget to keep the system overall in the black.
The finance report also states that it is looking for “additional measures to close the remaining £122m gap” in its forecast, with a focus on “further reductions” in its administration and central programme budgets.
The report adds that commissioners have identified measures to reduce spending, but these still leave a “risk adjusted” forecast overspend against plan of £122m.
NHS England has said it working on “further mitigations” and expected those to be sufficient to close the remaining gap.