More than £1.1 billion has been ploughed back into frontline services through efficiency savings in NHS Scotland over the last five years.
The latest figures for 2012/13 show that NHS Boards have again exceeded their efficiency targets of 3%, by saving £270 million.
The Scottish Government increased spending on the NHS, with the aim of channelling the money towards patient care.
The savings, outlined in the QuEST (Quality and Efficiency Support Team) Annual Report, are made from a range of measures, including reducing bureaucracy and improving practices to free up time for patient care.
Scottish Health Secretary Alex Neil confirmed that the NHS in Scotland is on target to meet efficiency targets for this year.
He said: “By reinvesting this money we are able to deliver real changes for patients, like investing in our workforce to see Scotland have more qualified nurses per head of population than England.
“While we are striving to become more efficient with taxpayers’ money we remain committed to protecting spending on health, and our latest £12.1 billion resource budget reflects a funding increase in real terms for both 2014-15 and 2015-16.
“In addition to this our NHS has a long term plan for improving both the quality of care and Scotland’s public health record while still protecting its financial future.”
Key efficiencies highlighted in the report include:
– The use of hand held patient records in NHS Western Isles has allowed staff to spend 15% more time on direct patient care.
– Investment in a new IT system to manage patient transport has seen the Scottish Ambulance Service save over £2.5 million.
– Creation of a cardiology in-reach service at Hairmyres Hospital has resulted in 52% of patients seen by a cardiologist at A&E being discharged on the same day rather than waiting to be transferred to a cardiology ward.
– Giving patients access to portable oxygen cylinders gave them more mobility and also saved NHS Scotland £600,000.