A trust which was threatening to make hundreds of staff redundant has been told it need not pay back £20.7m historic debt - provided it manages its finances better.

NHS Yorkshire and the Humber justified its decision by saying Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare trust was in a 'unique position'. But a report to a strategic health authority board meeting listed three primary care trusts and two hospital trusts as also facing major financial challenges.

Chief executive Iain McInnes said: 'The SHA has been through a detailed analysis of what we are planning and have confidence in the new management team.'

He said he could understand colleagues in other trusts feeling jealous, but was 'neither clever enough nor foolish enough' to play a game of brinkmanship with the SHA.

Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare trust has now said it will only need to cut around 50 jobs this year rather than the 600 predicted over the next two to three years.

The SHA has agreed that the historic debt does not have to be repaid now or in the future if it would adversely affect clinical services. The trust had expected to repay it over the next three years, with substantial job losses and service changes.

The trust has to return to in-year balance, honour all contractual arrangements, and make efficiency savings of 2.5 per cent - the conditions all trusts are asked to observe.

Mr McInnes said the trust, which has an annual income of just below£100m, still needed to make£10.5m savings in this financial year, but£8m of these had already been identified.

Eventually, it will have made efficiency savings of 12 per cent in 18 months, ideally without compulsory redundancies.

But Unison regional officer Ray Gray questioned why a solution was not found earlier.

The trust's original predictions of job cuts had led to massive media coverage and protests from local politicians.

'It means that our members have spent the last two months panicking,' Mr Gray said.