Plans to finally deliver a new major trauma network across hospitals in Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh will be unveiled next month.
Health Secretary Shona Robison revealed the revised timetable after being pressed on delays to the project by north-east MSP Lewis Macdonald.
The network, which would cost an initial £30million and treat an estimated 6,000 patients a year, was initially promised to be operational by the end of last year.
But, despite pre-election pledges from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, it was confirmed in January that it would not be up and running before 2020, although Ms Robison insisted the “vast bulk” of upgrades to individual bases at Aberdeen and Dundee would be completed by summer 2018.
Ms Robison’s failure to update MSPs on the scheme as planned last month sparked concerns it might have been hit by a fresh delay, and prompted Labour representative Mr Macdonald to write to the health secretary seeking assurances.
In response, she has now said: “The north of Scotland plans, which include proposals to have Aberdeen MTC (major trauma centre) up and running in 2018, are currently being considered alongside plans from the other regions and SAS (the Scottish Ambulance Service), by the Scottish Trauma Network Steering Group.
“The Steering Group expect to build on these plans to produce a national trauma network implementation plan by the end of December.”
However, Mr Macdonald expressed alarm at the latest delay last night, saying: “In January, the Scottish Government said the health secretary would update the Scottish Parliament on the Scottish Trauma Network implementation plan in October; now Shona Robison has admitted that plan is not due to be completed until December.
“This further slippage in the timetable is bound to cause concern among staff working at Foresterhill, who have already seen delays in plans for a major trauma centre that was supposed to be operational in 2016.”