HEALTH boss Martin Wakeley is very disappointed' over the news that the trust which runs Andover and Win-chester hospitals has been downgraded for its financial performance.

But he maintained the downgrading by the Audit Commission from two to one out a maximum of four was unwarranted.

Mr Wakeley, chief executive of Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust, said: "We are very disappointed with this rating but it should be put in perspective.

"Not only is the period covered now historic - April 2007 to March 2008 - but it was also one of immense change.

"There were new members of the trust board - including chair, chief executive and finance director - and the top priority of the board in this year was to drive up the quality of care.

"The investment, in terms of finance and energy, has clearly paid off. Waiting times are down, the cleanliness standards are higher than ever and our infection rates are some of the lowest in the country.

"This fantastic achievement in putting patients first is matched by a healthy financial track record."

He said the trust had broken even and made a surplus for the last two years, which would be reinvested in patient care.

"This has not happened by chance but is the result of determined and focused efforts," Mr Wakeley added.

"Our financial and operational success clearly shows that this is an organisation going in the right direction.

"The rating is unwarranted.

"We were asked for a medium term financial plan at a time when we our finance director had been in post for a matter of weeks.

"I am pleased to say that this has now been done and shows a bright financial future for this trust.

"Looking forward, the trust's finances are in good shape.

"Although I am unhappy with today's rating I am confident that next year's will reflect the vast improvements we've made."