A HEALTH board has had to spend more than £26,000 on a special dentist's chair to fit larger people who need treatment.

The specialist "bariatric" dentist's chair cost NHS Fife £26,394. It will allow a range of dental work to be carried out on patients too large or too heavy to fit in ordinary dental chairs.

It was one of several items of specially-large or specially-strong pieces of equipment bought by the board to cope with a rising tide of the grossly obese requiring NHS help.

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According to figures, NHS Fife have spent a total of £42,000 on bariatric equipment since 2011-12.

More than half went on the giant dental chair; other items included a £1,000 specially-designed obese person's commode, a £5,260 bariatric hoist, and a £1,000 exam plinth.

Figures were also released for Tayside and Forth Valley.

In Tayside, more than £160,000 was spent on bariatric equipment including £6,000 on oversized dignity gowns and and £130 on a giant bag. NHS Tayside also spent almost £30,000 on bariatric beds, £20,000 on chairs, and £35,000 on theatre tables.

NHS Forth Valley said it was currently spending some £3,000 per year for the annual hire of three bariatric beds, and in 2013-14 spent around £11,000 on bariatric moving and handling equipment, including lifting kit.

NHS health boards in England and Wales spent £5.5 million over the same period on similar equipment.