Scottish health minister Susan Deacon has ordered the Arbuthnott steering group to produce new proposals after rejecting its original plans to change the way NHS funding is shared out.

The latest development has been hailed as a victory by the Scottish Assembly's health committee, which had recommended that 'significant changes' should be made to the document.

When Ms Deacon rejected the findings, a spokesperson for her pointed out that the committee's opinions on the report were 'only one element' of the consultation process and that Ms Deacon could 'approve this legislation whatever the committee has said'.

But this week committee convenor Margaret Smith claimed it could 'take a lot of credit' for Ms Deacon's decision to ask Sir John Arbuthnott to reconvene his group and report again on areas which had raised concern.

During discussions on the committee's response to Ms Deacon's announcement, Conservative health spokeswoman Mary Scanlon urged fellow members to be less 'grateful' that Ms Deacon had taken account of its views.

'We are going to be consulted. She's going to get our opinion whether she likes it or not.'

The steering group now aims to provide the minister with revised recommendations by the end of this month.