NHS accounts, reported to Parliament today, reveal that 59 of the 99 health authorities had an in-year deficit for 1999-2000, compared with 48 out of 100 the previous year.

The National Audit Office reported that 76 trusts and 28 HAs faced 'serious financial problems, largely due to winter pressures, drug cost rises and implementation of the European working-time directive.

The greatest problems were reported by West Surrey, Redbridge & Waltham Forest, Wakefield, Barnet, and West Hertfordshire HAs. Among trusts, Andover Community Healthcare, Greenwich Healthcare, Barnet Healthcare, Oxfordshire Ambulance and East Hertfordshire were in the deepest financial trouble.

Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General NHS (England) Sumamrised Accounts 1999-2000. www. nao. gov. uk