The number of cancelled operations has shot up in the West Midlands - while hospitals and health trusts are on course to run up a surplus of £155 million this year.
Latest figures show that in a three-month period, hospitals in the region called off 1,545 operations at short notice, compared with 1,109 in the same period last year, an increase of 39 per cent.
At the same time, forecasts for the current financial year showed health trusts in the region were set to underspend by £155 million, up from £153 million last year.
The regional health authority said the surplus was no more than two per cent of its total budget and would be used to invest in health services in future years, including measures to cut cases of hospital acquired infections such as MRSA.
A spokeswoman said: “The revenue forecast out-turn surplus of £155 million is a small margin which will allow local health services to be robust in their spending plans for the next year.”
West Midlands trusts which cancelled operations for non-clinical reasons at short notice between April and June this year include:
* Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs City Hospital in Birmingham, cancelled 147;
* Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs hospitals in Redditch, Kidderminister and Worcester, cancelled 119;
* University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, which runs University Hospitals in Coventry - on the site of the former Walsgrave Hospital - cancelled 263.
The forecast of a budget surplus suggest the financial crisis which gripped the NHS three years ago, when trusts were forced to axe thousands of jobs, was well and truly over. In the financial year 2005-6, the region’s health service ended the year £38 million over budget.
But it also led to claims that patients were being denied the treatment they need.
Heart of Birmingham Primary Care Trust, which provides a range of health services in central Birmingham, is set to end the year £9.6 million under budget, while South Birmingham Primary Care Trust is heading for a £6.5 million surplus.
Walsall Primary Care Trust is set to end the year with an £11.5 million surplus, while Wolverhampton City Primary Care Trust is heading for an underspend of £27 million.
The figures are predictions published by the Director General for NHS Finance, Performance and Operations based on performance in the first quarter of the financial year.
Nationally, the NHS is heading for a budget surplus of £1.75 billion.
Birmingham MP John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley) said he recently represented a constituent who was denied a drug called Lucentis to prevent his sight deteriorating.
Mr Hemming said: “He had paid his taxes and they were being used to run up surpluses rather than provide treatment.
“I found it very sad. I wondered what the reasoning was behind running the NHS in this particular way.”
A spokeswoman for NHS West Midlands, the regional health authority, said: “Much work has been undertaken by the NHS in the West Midlands over the past few years to move from a deficit position to one of balancing the books and breaking even.
“Achieving this surplus, which is about two per cent of the total budget for the NHS in the West Midlands, will be an important part of the NHS financial strategy as it is needed to create the capacity to invest in future years.”
Surplus funding would be used to improve services, she said.
“It will be used to support initiatives across the health economy giving priority to the prevention of healthcare associated infections, to achieve waiting times of less than 18 weeks and to improve access to GP services.”