Cash-strapped Tayside University Hospitals trust has agreed a package of measures to reduce its deficit by £6.3m a year to balance the books by the end of March 2002.

The trust, which has a cumulative deficit of£11.1m and a projected overspend of£8m for this year, is due to issue details of how it will find the money today.

But in a statement, the trust said proposals considered by the board would take into account efforts to modernise Tayside's hospital services. One of the proposed measures already identified is closure of the 10 bed specialist burns unit at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. The unit is only two years old. A trust spokesperson said if it was closed patients would be transferred to the hospital's plastic surgery department.

Local GPs have warned that if more work is transferred to primary care to reduce pressure on the acute sector, they will require additional resources.

Unison head of health in Scotland Jim Devine said: 'We want to know how these cuts are going to be implemented without causing a reduction in the service.

'We believe that the level of overspend this year is likely to be higher than currently predicted, and with just eight months of the current financial year to go the possibility of saving£6.8m seems unlikely without extreme actions.'

Donald McNeil, development officer for the Institute of Healthcare Management in Scotland, said he believed managers could meet the 'challenging' target, although the timescale would be very tight as 'activity in the area has shot up over the last two years'.