The NHS latest quarterly performance report reveals it recorded a deficit of £791m in the financial year for 2016/2017 down from £2.4bn in the previous 12 months.
This represents a cut to the deficit of almost two-thirds, and comes despite rising demand, particularly over the winter period, and an increase of 24.5% in 'bed-blocking'.
Analysis by NHS Improvement reveals that this was achieved through savings of over £3.1bn, with more than £700m saved on locum and agency worker use throughout the year.
"The NHS has achieved the impossible. No healthcare system in the developed world has managed to achieve this level of efficiency," NHS Improvement chief executive, Jim Mackey, said.
"Sheer hard work by our staff has seen us finish the year in a far more healthy financial position than in recent times, while maintaining a focus on patient safety, compassion and outcomes."
The report shows that 217 out of 228 NHS trusts benefited from the £1.8bn Sustainability and Transformation Fund given to those that deliver more than 2% efficiency.
However, the deficit was still above a target of £580m for 2016/2017, with underlining issues, which threaten the sustainability of the NHS, still present.
The Medical Protection Society (MPS) revealed today that the cost of settling clinical negligence claims each year is the equivalent to training 6,500 new doctors, and that the NHS could be paying out £2.6bn annually by 2022.
This is "unsustainable for society without reform", according to the organisation, who said there should be reasonable compensation for those harmed due to clinical negligence, but that this must be balanced against society's ability to pay.
"If the current trend continues, the balance will tip too far and the cost risks becoming unsustainable for the NHS and ultimately for society," MPS director of claims, Emma Hallinan, said.
"When considering the financial challenges facing the NHS and the change to the personal injury discount rate - which has increased the cost of compensation for clinical negligence - there has never been a more pertinent time to tackle the root of the problem.
"We believe whole-system legal reform is needed, and that we need a regime which achieves a balance between compensation that is reasonable, but also affordable."
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