Published: 30/06/2005, Volume II5, No. 5962 Page 6

The Welsh Assembly believes it has weaned the Welsh NHS off its 'deficit' culture and dependence on loans that do not have to be repaid - despite the fact that accumulated trust deficits have grown by£10m to£37m in the last year.

An up-beat statement on the financial future of the NHS was delivered by Ann Lloyd, head of the Assembly's health and social care department, in her commentary on the latest auditor general for Wales annual report on NHS finances.

She said top-level officials and teams were being sent in to advise on - and if necessary help to run - departments that run into financial problems. And she highlighted that the report showed all 22 local health boards are operating within budget.

In the past, loans did not have to be repaid; now, applicants undergo a 'thorough investigation', and must agree repayments.