Thousands of seriously injured patients will be failed by the Health Secretary every year because of delays to Scotland’s major trauma network, says an MSP.
The Scottish Government revealed this month that the network, which includes Ninewells in Dundee, will not be ready before the end of the decade.
In 2014, officials said it would be operational by the end of last year.
Four major trauma centres will be established in Dundee, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh at an initial cost of about £30m to treat an estimated 6,000 patients a year.
Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour’s health spokesman, said the three-year delay means that “18,000 patients will be failed by this cabinet secretary”.
Donald Cameron, the shadow health secretary, slammed SNP ministers for presiding over the delay and being clueless over running costs.
“That delay is intolerable because these are quite literally life-saving centres whose very existence will often make all the difference between life and death,” the Conservative MSP added.
Shona Robison, the Health Secretary and a Dundee East MSP, said the delays emerged because of concerns raised by senior doctors over the viability of having four hubs, rather than two.
“I would hope that members across this Parliament think it’s right to take the time to build a consensus rather than push ahead with a model that did not have that clinician buy-in,” she added.
While the network will not be up-and-running before 2020, Ms Robison has said the “vast bulk” of upgrades to the individual bases at Dundee and Aberdeen will be completed by summer 2018.
Pressed by Dundee-based Labour MSP Jenny Marra, Ms Robison said she was “very optimistic” that the city’s trauma centre will have improvements in place by the end of this year.
Medical experts have said Ninewells and others require improved facilities, as well as higher standards in leadership, staffing and training, if it is to meet the demands of a being a major trauma centre.
Major trauma centres are key elements of the network, which also includes local hospitals and rehabilitation units.