NHS trusts have recorded the biggest ever deficit in the history of the health service, prompting fears about the future of patient care.
Data shows NHS trusts ended the last financial year a record £2.45bn in deficit, lower than the £2.8bn which had been predicted, but almost three times bigger than the previous year.
Overall, 65% of the 240 trusts are in deficit with nearly all hospitals ending the year in the red and the chief executive of NHS Providers has said that cost-cutting alone is not enough to solve the problem.
The data comes as the NHS struggles to hit key targets, with performance against the four hour A&E waiting times target at its lowest ever level and the highest ever number of patients being delayed leaving hospital due to inadequate community and social care.
Some have argued the massive black hole actually represents huge government under-investment in the NHS as the health service deals with more patients than ever and increasingly complex cases as people live longer.
The UK spends a smaller proportion of its GDP on health care than countries such as Portugal, France and the Netherlands.