Published: 07/04/2005, Volume II5, No. 5949 Page 7

The NHS in Wales is still in the red despite some improvements in financial management and fraud reduction, the auditor general for Wales has reported.

NHS trusts reported a deficit of£9.7m in 2003-04, most of which was generated by five trusts. Carmarthenshire trust had the largest deficit -£4.9m - in 2003-04. Cardiff and Vale; Ceredigion and MidWales; Pembrokeshire and Derwen; and Welsh Ambulance Services trusts also had large deficits.

Local health boards underspent by£1.5m, thanks to an additional£8.9m allocated from central funds.

This will have to be repaid in coming years.

The report says: 'The health economy in Wales continues to face significant financial problems. The appointed auditors have expressed their opinion that this position is not sustainable.' The British Medical Association said the situation reflected years of underfunding in Wales.