Nicola Sturgeon was yesterday challenged over delays to a £35 million Inverness medical centre which aims to cut agonising waiting times for hip, knee and eye surgery.
Work on the North of Scotland Elective Centre was originally supposed to begin in the summer but the start date has since been postponed to the end of this year.
With just over four weeks until the New Year, and with patients waiting up to 78 weeks for orthopaedic surgery, Highland Tory MSP Edward Mountain demanded to know when work will start.
He raised the issue with Ms Sturgeon at First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood and said he had written to Health Secretary Jeane Freeman seven weeks ago for a progress report.
Despite two chasing emails, he had yet to receive a reply.
“Given that orthopaedic waiting times in the Highlands now exceed 78 weeks, my constituents and I would like to know when work will start on the elective care centre for the north of Scotland and when it will be operational,” Mr Mountain said.
Ms Sturgeon claimed the Health Secretary had written to Mr Mountain, but did not answer his question about when the project would start.
The first minister said: “We are delivering a number of elective treatment centres around the country as part of our waiting times improvement plan, to ensure that we build capacity so that the rising demand on the National Health Service is met.
“I will ensure that Edward Mountain gets the response from the health secretary as quickly as possible.”