Nurses have called for the £1.7m NHS surplus generated in the last financial year to go to front line services.
A report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee raised concerns about where the surplus from the year 2007-08 was going to be spent.
Chair Edward Leigh said: ‘Patients lose out if too much NHS funding is sitting unspent in bank accounts. The Department of Health has said that the surplus and the planned one for 2008-09 will be available to the NHS for spending in 2009-10 and 2010-11.
‘This kind of financial planning over the longer term is good but the needs here and now of patients in parts of the country for drugs and better quality care must not be forgotten.‘
Janet Davies, executive director of service delivery at the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘While we are encouraged that the NHS is on a firm financial footing, it is absolutely vital that this surplus goes straight to frontline services.
‘A £1.7bn surplus is £1.7bn which must be spent on improving patient care and the government must make clear how it plans to use this money.
‘It is particularly important that NHS spending is sustained through the economic downturn, and that funding intended for patient care does not get siphoned off elsewhere. During an economic downturn, many people are under additional pressure which can damage their mental and physical health. The NHS must be fit to deal with this.’