Published: 16/06/2005, Volume II5, No. 5960 Page 14

South Tees Hospitals trust's financial problems are now so severe that nurses' jobs are at risk and the future of a maternity unit in doubt, it was revealed this week.

On Tuesday, a damning public interest Audit Commission report confirmed he trust overspent by£9m in 2004-05, owes another£12m and forecasts a further£10m deficit in 2005-06.

District auditor Lynne Snowball said that the trust would have to save£66m over the next three years to get back on track.

South Tees has been struggling to claw back the£9m overspend in the last financial year.

But despite the introduction of wide-ranging cost-cutting measures - which includes a freeze on recruitment - the trust's financial situation appears to be deteriorating.

Chief executive Simon Pleydell said this week that further cutbacks could be achieved without patient care being compromised.

But he admitted that the future of the recently reopened Guisborough Maternity Hospital, which closed temporarily in November 2002 because of a shortage of midwives, was again being reconsidered because of 'low usage'.