Frontline services at NHS Grampian will not be affected by a planned £34m budget cut, Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has claimed.
She told Holyrood that efficiency savings would be retained by the organisation and pumped back into patient care.
The statement came not long after the board's chief executive warned of "an incredibly tough" year ahead for NHS Grampian, which faces a funding shortfall despite an additional investment of £23m recently being announced.
Ms Sturgeon (pictured) said: "The budget of NHS Grampian has increased this year.
"Grampian has set itself the task of making £34m in efficiency savings.
"The definition of efficiency savings is that they do not impact adversely on patient care.
"It is a cardinal principle of this government's efficiency savings programme that efficiency savings are recycled so that they are invested in frontline patient care. That is a very important principle."