A major milestone has been reached in delivering a 24-bed elective care centre for the north after a planning application has been lodged.
The medical facility, which will be located at Inverness Campus, will offer knee, hip and cataract surgery alongside a full range of ophthalmology outpatient services.
The submission of the planning application represents a major milestone in the project which was due to be complete in August 2021 – however, delays have resulted in the centre’s estimated operational date being pushed back 12 months.
The cost of the facility has also risen dramatically from its initial estimate of £16million to figures revealed in May which totalled £41.3 million – an increase of more than 150%.
NHS Highland has said work to clear the site has started ahead of the anticipated start of construction in October, should planning permission be granted.
The health board’s vice chairwoman Ann Clark said it represents an “exciting project” and will go a long way to “improve the quality of care and facilities” as well as “providing extra capacity for the north of Scotland”.
Balfour Beatty will be in charge of construction.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said she is pleased work is underway with treatment allowing patients to continue to live as independently as they wish.
She added: “We have worked to ensure this facility was designed to the optimal standard. Within the next two years we will have provided a high-quality facility for elective care services and the additional capacity that will meet the needs of an ageing population. I am pleased that work is now underway and look forward to seeing the centre progress.”
Regional MSP Edward Mountain said: “I am pleased that this project is now moving ahead and I hope planning permission is granted swiftly so that construction begins as soon as possible.
“However, I am hugely disappointed that it has taken so long for the project to reach this stage.
“Had construction started on the Elective Care Centre during the summer of 2019, as originally planned, the facility would have been ready for patients in August 2021 and the Highlands would now be in a better position to reduce waiting times and the treatment backlog after the pandemic.”