A financially beleaguered health authority has scaled back its savings in the light of the NHS plan.

West Surrey HA had intended to close 90 beds and save£1.75m as part of broader plans to make overall cuts of£18m.Last month, NHS acting chief executive Neil McKay wrote to all trusts and HAs ordering them to make 'no further bed closures except where alternative provision is already in place'.

West Surrey has reacted to the diktat by scaling down its plans - instead of losing three and a half wards, two will be closed, at a saving of£1m, with the money ploughed back into patient care, chief executive Jenny Griffiths insisted. Phase one of the five-year scheme began last April. So far,£6m of the£11m savings planned under the first phase have been realised. Phase two has now been adapted by extending the amount of savings planned under a minor proposals programme from£3.7m to£5m.

The HA promised that the programme to close 60 acute beds - which starts in 2002 - would only begin if sufficient capacity to eliminate trolley waits and meet six-month waiting targets could be demonstrated.

But Ms Griffiths admitted that 150 beds were currently blocked and until that improved it would not be possible to get trusts to improve performance.

An HA meeting today will decide how local community services will be altered in the light of the acute plans.