NHS trusts in England have racked up a deficit of nearly £900m in the first nine months of this financial year despite the extra money being ploughed into the service, the BBC understands.
The sum is down from the record overspend of £2.45bn in 2015-16.
And regulators believe the deficit could actually be cut slightly before April to between £750m and £850m.
But this has only been achieved because of a special one-off £1.8bn fund this year to help hospitals plug the gap.
The figures cover hospitals, ambulances, mental health units and community services – although most of the deficit has been accrued by hospitals.
Between them these trusts have a budget of nearly £80bn. That is about two-thirds of the health budget as spending on GPs, training, drugs and public health are accounted for separately.
Hospitals have blamed rising visits to A&E and problems discharging patients because of a lack of community services to care for patients.
The accounts cover 238 trusts. In total 135 were in deficit three quarters of the way through the 2016-17 financial year.