Hospitals and health trusts in the West Midlands underspent by £153 million last year, the nation’s official spending watchdog has revealed.
Almost £2 in every £100 provided by the Treasury went unspent, leading to fears that patients may have missed out on treatment.
The money will be kept by health trusts, so it is available to spend in future years.
Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Heartlands Hospital and Good Hope Hospital in Birmingham, as well as Solihull Hospital, ran up a surplus of £22.9 million.
Dudley Group of Hospitals, which runs three hospitals in Dudley and Stourbridge, recorded a surplus of £10.5 million, while Wolverhampton City Primary Care Trust, which provides GP services in Wolverhampton, underspent by £13.8 million.
The total surplus of £153 million was more than double last year’s underspend in the West Midlands, which came to £61 million. It meant health services held back 1.9 per cent of their total budget.
Across the country, health trust underspent by £1.67 billion, or 2.1 per cent of total budgets.
They had been asked by the Department of Health to save some money, so that they had reserves to help them in future years. However, the surpluses raised in the past 12 months were double what had been planned.
MP Edward Leigh, the chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, which monitors public spending, said patients could be missing out on treatment as health services hoarded cash.
He said: “The Department of Health has delivered on its major healthcare targets – for example, reducing incidents of healthcare acquired infection and the 18-week waiting list target. And managers and clinicians are also getting better at managing their finances.
“However, the £1.7 billion surplus represents a large amount of money that could have been spent on NHS patients and wasn’t.
“While national targets were met, there are still examples of local organisations who are falling below standard, both medical and financial, and which might have benefited from additional cash.”
The National Audit Office said the NHS had not cut services despite running up major surpluses.
It said: “The latest available figures show that staffing levels remained stable in the year to September 2007, but non-emergency hospital procedures increased by five per cent, and the number of consultations at GP practices increased by two per cent.”