Scottish health minister Susan Deacon has revealed that the financial problems of Tayside were partly behind plans for a restructured NHS in Scotland.

Under the Scottish health plan, each area will have a unified health board, involving trusts and councils, aimed at improving strategic direction and communication with the centre.

'The health plan was a result of the experience that I had as a minister in dealing with Tayside, ' she told the health and community care committee. She said that the trust, which ran up a£12m deficit in its first year, was already in difficulty by the time the Scottish Executive health department received signals that the system was dysfunctional. 'We need better early-warning systems, ' she said. 'We do not want to breathe down people's necks but we need to know when to take action. '

Just last week Tayside University Hospitals had to transfer some acute services from Stracathro Hospital in Brechin to Ninewells in Dundee. The trust said the move happened because it had not been possible to recruit enough staff or locums to become compliant with the new deal on junior doctors' hours.

The action fuelled speculation that Stracathro could close.