A CASH-STRAPPED health board which has already been loaned more than £37 million by taxpayers requires another emergency bailout, it has emerged.

Auditors have been called in to examine how £5.3m of eHealth funding was misrecorded in accounts at NHS Tayside, leading to an unexpected deficit.

Read more: NHS Tayside suspends all non-urgent operations 

It also emerged that the health board's director of finance, Lindsay Bedford, has decided to retire after 35 years' service.

Plans were already in place to provide an additional £4m in government loans, known as brokerage, to NHS Tayside during 2017/18, on top of £33.2m dished out during the previous four years.

However, with the health board's financial position "likely to deteriorate further" as a result of flawed accounting, this sum will no longer be enough.

The latest crisis to engulf NHS Tayside was revealed in a letter from Paul Gray, chief executive of NHS Scotland, to Jenny Marra, convenor of Holyrood's Public Audit Committee.

Read more: NHS Tayside needs to save £200m in five years 

Writing on March 7, Mr Gray said the problem had emerged "from information we identified about the flow of £5.3m of eHealth funds via NHS National Services Scotland and the way in which they have been recorded within NHS Tayside accounts".

He added: "I have instructed a thorough independent external review by Grant Thornton UK LLP into the the financial transactions in question. They will report back to me within two weeks."

A revised estimate of NHS Tayside's total budget overspend for 2017/18 is not expected until March 19, so it is unclear at present how much extra brokerage will be needed.

A full internal investigation will also be carried out and Lesley McLay, chief executive of NHS Tayside, told Mr Gray that she was committed to ensuring the matter "is resolved in an open and transparent manner".

Read more: Patients could face longer waiting times in Tayside

It comes after Scotland's Auditor General Caroline Gardner warned in October 2017 that NHS Tayside was becoming "increasingly reliant" on one-off savings to break even and required a "realistic action plan".

In February 2017, Mr Gray also warned that some patients in the region might have to wait longer for treatment to help it to save money.

Ms McLay, said the latest situation was "highly unsatisfactory", but stressed that that the health board has "already taken steps to include further savings in our 2018/19 financial plans to account for this".

She added: “There is no doubt that there is a very demanding programme of work to be delivered in 2018-19 and beyond, but we are committed to transforming services and that is where our focus will be in the coming years.

“The Board takes its accountability to the people of Tayside extremely seriously and it remains committed to providing safe and sustainable health and care services which deliver high-quality care and treatment for everyone.”

Health Secretary Shona Robison said:“As soon as this situation came to light, we commissioned an independent external review which is now underway and will report back shortly.

"In the meantime, the Scottish Government will provide additional brokerage to ensure the financial position in NHS Tayside remains stable in order to protect patient care and services and ensure they remain the priority.”