Bosses at NHS Tayside are still looking for millions of pounds of savings as they try to plug the massive blackhole in its budget.
The health board must make £27 million of savings by the end of March and has £3.6 million still to find.
Senior staff have been holding high-level meetings this week to identify what further cuts can be made.
NHS Scotland maintains a no compulsory redundancy policy so extra savings would have to be made through more efficiencies or posts being left unfilled.
Health bosses believe the savings can still be made by reducing “waste and variation in our system”.
A spokeswoman for NHS Tayside said: “For 2015/2016, NHS Tayside has an efficiency savings target of £27 million.
“As at December 2015, we have identified £23.4 million of savings.
“As a board, NHS Tayside remains committed to a five-year programme of improvement and transformation which will sustain the delivery of person- centred, safe and effective treatment and care for all our patients and their families.
“Through this programme we continue to focus on a number of key cost pressure areas where we are looking in detail at how we reduce waste and variation in our system.
“These areas include prescribing, procurement, our property plans and environments of care.”
The £27 million figure amounts to 4.1% of the health board’s general allocation and the savings are needed to break even, Audit Scotland reported in October.
Troubled Tayside has racked up more than £19 million of emergency government loans over three years, much of which still has to be paid back largely through property sales.
Alison McInnes, the Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for North East Scotland, said: “The health board has done well to identify such a significant proportion of the savings required given the continued tightening of the public belt but departments are likely to continue feeling the pinch.
“I just hope the Scottish Government is standing by it to make sure it receives the right resources at the right time so patient care isn’t compromised.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said they work with all health boards so they maintain balanced financial positions and achieve efficiency savings.
“We are continuing to work with NHS Tayside to strengthen their financial position as we move forward,” she added.
“This Government has protected and increased the NHS Tayside resource budget, by £146.3 million since 2006/7.
“This year alone, NHS Tayside’s frontline budget has been increased by 2.8% to a total of £663.3 million and will increase by a further 5.4% to £699.2 million in 2016/17.”