Scotland's health boards have achieved their efficiency savings targets for the fourth year in a row.
NHS boards across the country made savings totalling £319 million in 2011-12, slightly more than the £317 million target. With the cash saved invested in frontline care, that means more than £1 billion was put back into the NHS between 2008 and 2011, according to the Scottish Government.
Health Secretary Alex Neil said boards were asked to make savings of 3% so the money could be "reinvested where we need it most".
But last week there was a warning it could be more difficult for boards to meet future savings targets. Public spending watchdog Audit Scotland said savings plans "will be challenging to achieve as the level of flexibility within budgets is considerably reduced by cost savings made in previous years".
Health boards across Scotland saved £37 million last year by improving procurement processes, with a further £27 million likely to be saved this year.
Seven boards made annual savings of £8.5 million by establishing a financial services consortium, hosted by NHS Ayrshire and Arran and which enables some financial support to be shared between them. NHS Lanarkshire has saved about £300,000 by redesigning its laundry production line to increase its capacity.
Mr Neil said: "The Scottish Government is committed to protecting spending on health, and all territorial health boards have seen a real-terms increase in their budget this year.
"Sustained investment in our national health service will ensure that boards continue to have the necessary resources to bring about real benefits to both patients and staff, and that we can deliver a first-class service to patients across the country.
"Despite a difficult economic climate, we know how important it is that we continue to invest in frontline NHS services, and that is why we have asked NHS boards to make efficiency savings of 3% so that this money can be reinvested where we need it most.
"It is right that we do this to make sure that we are able to deliver the best possible care for our patients, and to also ensure the taxpayer gets the best possible value for money."