A union leader has called for Welsh Office support for a health authority facing a pounds13.5m deficit.

David Galligan, head of health for Unison in Wales, said ministers should realise more resources would be needed in 'relatively rural and deprived' Dyfed Powys to avoid community hospital closures.

Dyfed Powys HA drew up plans to close up to eight out of 19 local community hospitals last year. The plans were shelved after Welsh health minister Win Griffiths refused the HA pounds5.4m brokerage until an 'independent person' had 'examined' its financial affairs.

The minister claimed a 'discrepancy' had been discovered in its accounts relating to GP fundholder savings, and questioned the way it handled brokerage.

But a report by David Evans, finance director of North and Mid Hampshire HA, gave Dyfed Powys HA a 'clean bill of health'.

An HA spokeswoman welcomed Mr Evans' findings, but said it still faced a 'gap between demand and the funds available to meet it'.

See News, page 8.