FOUR NHS boards across Scotland will need loans to balance the books this year, it has emerged.

Forecasts show a funding gap of £131.5 million by the end of 2018/19, with boards struggling under a deficit of £34.6 million just two months into the current financial year.

But Scottish ministers insisted the gap is expected to close over the coming months as boards find areas for further savings.

It comes as UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn warned the NHS is catastrophically underfunded at a rally in Livingston, adding: “It has to be defended like never before.”

Documents show Scottish NHS boards have identified a requirement to save a total of £488 million.

However four boards – Tayside, Ayrshire and Arran, Highland and Borders – will require two to three years to return to financial balance, and therefore anticipate the need for £70.9 million worth of loans, known as brokerage.

The financial position of all 22 NHS boards was collated and published by the Scottish Government following the scandal at NHS Tayside, which was first exposed by The Herald.

Former health secretary Shona Robison was forced to step in after it was revealed the cash-strapped board dipped into its charity fund and transferred millions of pounds to prop up its ailing finances.

She said there was no evidence to suggest other boards had misused endowment funding, however the crisis prompted calls for greater transparency.

Incoming Health Secretary Jeane Freeman, who replaced Ms Robison in Nicola Sturgeon’s recent reshuffle of her top team, said Scotland’s NHS is receiving “record funding”.

She said: "There is rising demand on our NHS, with increased expectations and an ageing population, so it is crucial we have a transparent and open approach to finances.

"I expect all health boards to continue to develop their plans and work towards delivering a balanced financial position over the course of the remaining financial year, while ensuring they provide safe and effective care and deliver best value for money."

But Scottish Labour’s health spokesman Anas Sarwar said the report confirmed the health service is “underfunded, staff are undervalued and the health service desperately needs to be under new management”.

He said: "We are only two months into the financial year and Scotland's health boards are already £34 million in the red – with a projected funding gap of £131 million for the year.”

Yesterday, Mr Corbyn joined Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard at a rally in Livingston in the run-up to the 70th anniversary of the health service.

He pledged Labour would pump extra funding into the NHS if it got into power, and outlined plans for a massive boost in campaigning before any future General Election.

He said: “Last time, I only did 100 events during the election campaign. That was just a dress rehearsal. Next time we’re going to do it properly – more than that in every single part of this country.”

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs insisted the “financial crisis” across Scotland’s NHS was “deeply worrying”.

He added: “The financial pressures facing NHS Boards have developed on the SNP’s watch, and we now need SNP Ministers and to get a grip on the dire financial situation they’ve created and which is now impacting on the ability of NHS Scotland to deliver health and social care across Scotland.

“It is clear that after 11 years of mismanagement of our Scottish NHS, Scots are increasingly questioning the SNP's stewardship and ability to help improve and move forward our Scottish NHS.”