Sweeping cuts are on the way for the region’s health services as NHS Lothian looks to close a £133m budget gap.

Dealing with the eye-watering shortfall would involve cutting “into the muscle” of the health service and lead to longer waiting lists, staff reductions, cancelled operations, less money for medicines, whilst making it even harder to see a GP, it was warned.

A meeting heard this week it was the “tightest financial situation” the organisation has faced in decades.

It comes after the Scottish Government announced a two-year freeze on any new capital funding for health boards, casting doubt over the future of Edinburgh’s replacement eye hospital and new cancer centre at the Western General, as well as plans for a new treatment centre at St John’s in Livingston — projects regarded as vital to cope with the region’s rapidly growing population.

Representing seven per cent of the overall budget, the projected £133m gap in 2024/25 is more than double the 3 per cent saving usually required by NHS Lothian, having increased following the Scottish Government’s budget announcement in December.

Health chiefs have warned measures set to be taken to balance the books would “cut into the muscle” and not be “small scale”

Want to see more SNP fails? – Politics Matters

Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter and join the fightback against Scottish Nationalism.