NHS foundation trusts in England have reported a deficit of £321 million, a figure five times more than planned, according to the latest report by health regulator, Monitor.

Monitor’s quarterly report stated that NHS trusts are under “exceptional pressure” as they strive to balance an increase in patient demands against strained finances and budget cuts. Out of 147 NHS trusts in England reviewed by Monitor, 53% were in the red.

Between October and December 2014, the number of patients admitted to A&E foundation trust hospitals rose to 2.7 million, eight percent higher than the same period the previous year. More than half a million of these patients went on to be admitted for further treatment.

Expensive contract and agency workers have also contributed to rising costs, with around £419 million more spent on staff than planned.

Bryan Prudham, a senior clinical negligence solicitor based in Thompsons Solicitors’ Newcastle office, said: “Budget cuts and reforms from the coalition government have had a detrimental impact on the NHS. With a deficit of over £300 million and increasing patient numbers, this is quite clearly an unsustainable model for our NHS and is something the government must urgently address.

“Staff are being put under increasing pressure due to rising demand, and a lack of funding to adequately resource the NHS is at the heart of the problem. Instead of paying to hire expensive agency workers, the government should be providing better funding to train more staff, improve working conditions, and encourage more people to choose to work in the NHS.

“Latest figures have also shown worsening A&E performance figures in England over recent weeks and it is high time the government acknowledged the consequences of its cutbacks and invested in supporting frontline NHS staff who face acute pressure on a day to day basis.”