Obese patients are costing Scottish health boards millions of pounds in specialist equipment, according to the Liberal Democrats.

Over the last few years, the NHS spent almost £4.4 million on items such as wider wheelchairs, wider bedside chairs and extra wide beds, a Freedom of Information request revealed.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Ross Finnie said the figures could be far higher, as no information was available for Scotland’s two biggest health boards, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Lothian.

Health boards have spent more than £1.3 million on extra wide beds suitable for obese patients, and NHS Fife paid £79,500 for larger operating theatre tables.

Almost £60,000 was spent on longer versions of standard surgical instruments, while the bill for overhead gantry systems to lift overweight patients was just over £315,000.

Mr Finnie said: “It’s well known that obesity increases the risk of heart disease, cancer and strokes. This already places a great strain on NHS resources. But now we can see just how much health boards have to spend to adapt hospitals for these patients.”

He described obesity as being “Scotland’s ticking time-bomb” and said the most recent figures showed 20% of children in primary one are obese.