NHS boards in Scotland will have to find savings worth £300m to reinvest in frontline services, health secretary Nicola Sturgeon has said.
A target of 3 per cent was set as part of a new efficiency programme to remove waste and improve services.
Ms Sturgeon launched the drive at Stirling Royal Infirmary, where a diabetes service was redesigned with the potential to save £1m.
The new NHS programme follows a scheme in 2007-08 which helped deliver £646m in savings.
Ms Sturgeon said: “The new efficiency and productivity framework will support the delivery of even tougher targets for NHS boards - absolutely right in the current financial climate.
“Although no decisions have been taken about efficiency targets beyond this financial year, if the current level of 3 per cent was maintained until 2015, this would save about £1bn.
“I am sure that boards will rise to the challenge to improve efficiency and quality, enabling them to redesign services for the better, as we have seen here in Stirling.”
The Scottish government said NHS Forth Valley reduced waiting times for nurse-led diabetic clinics from a maximum of 15 weeks to around three weeks. This released 50 per cent of nurses’ time, allowing them to focus on improving patient care.
Dr Chris Kelly, consultant endocrinologist at Stirling Royal Infirmary, said: “I am proud of the result of the team’s redesign project.
“In addition to improving patient outcomes, it has motivated the team by using improvement methodology to arrive at a local solution. We are energised by the results and keen to apply this approach to further improvement projects.”
The Scottish budget outlined plans for 3 per cent savings in the public sector over 2011-12.
The framework report, published today by the government, added: “Inflationary pressures arising from increasing demographic changes, drugs and staff costs will mean that NHS boards will need to make a minimum of 3 per cent efficiency savings to break even.”