The gap between the financial performance of Scotland's acute trusts reached 23 per cent in the last financial year, according to a report by the Scottish Executive.

Scotland's first financial performance report reveals that Tayside University Hospitals trust overspent against the average by 11. 6 per cent in the year ending March 2000. Fife Acute Hospitals trust underspent against the average by the same percentage.

The costs are calculated by taking account of different services and, where possible, case mix, with the intention of providing a like-forlike comparison to offer a benchmark of financial performance.

Among Scotland's four other university trusts Lothian overspent by 4. 2 per cent and South Glasgow overspent by 1. 5 per cent; while Grampian underspent by 10. 6 per cent and North Glasgow underspent by 1. 8 per cent.

Among the primary care trusts the greatest overspend was by the tiny island units such as Western Isles (47. 6 per cent); Shetland (45. 4 per cent); and Orkney (41. 6 per cent).

The greatest overspend by a mainland PCT came from Borders with 37. 1 per cent.

A spokesperson for Tayside University Hospitals trust said the figures in Tayside were 'because of the high capital costs due to the large amounts of property the trust owns, and also because it experienced one of the most confusing reorganisations of any trust'.

Gordon Greenshields, director of finance at Fife, said its result was down to 'staff effort and decisions to prioritise the delivery of patient care by sacrificing investment on buildings and equipment'. But he added this could not be carried out indefinitely 'and we do need more funding'.