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Cash-strapped NHS puts £35m Perth elective surgery unit plan on hold

The multimillion-pound national treatment centre planned at Perth Royal Infirmary has fallen victim to a nationwide funding crisis.

Perth Royal Infirmary
Local politician Murdo Fraser reacted furiously to the delay. Image: DC Thomson.

A new state-of-the-art elective surgery unit at Perth Royal Infirmary is being delayed in a nationwide health funding crisis, sparking claims the SNP has broken a promise to voters.

Health boards were told there is no cash available for new infrastructure projects such as hospitals, GP surgeries and national treatment centres.

This includes the new £35-million “centre of excellence” for elective surgery pledged for the PRI.

Murdo Fraser
Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser. Image: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament.

National treatment centres are designed to tackle spiralling NHS waiting lists.

The Scottish Government’s newly appointed health secretary, Neil Gray, previously said the centres were part of his “overriding mission” to increase capacity in the NHS.

A fresh infrastructure plan will instead be unveiled in the weeks ahead, with essential maintenance prioritised in the meantime.

SNP accused of ‘breaking promise’ to Perthshire

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser told The Courier the “broken promise” would be a massive blow to patients who could have benefitted.

Mr Fraser said: “The centre at PRI was said to deal with a range of procedures including breast surgery, gynaecology, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, urology, dermatology and ear, nose and throat treatments, so patients waiting to receive treatments for these issues will be bitterly disappointed.”

He blamed the delay on the SNP’s economic strategy, accusing them of following a “disastrous tax-and-cut” strategy.

He added: “We were initially promised that the elective surgery centre would be built by the end of this year, but instead we see another broken promise by this incompetent SNP government.

“It will no doubt try and blame Westminster for this decision, but had construction started when originally promised the building would have been nearly finished by now. Perthshire and Scotland deserve a lot better than this.”

A spokeswoman for NHS Tayside said the government had confirmed it was not in a position to fund the development.

She added: “Although the new facility was still a few years away from completion, we know that this delay will be disappointing for staff who have been working on the planning, as well as patients who were looking forward to the delivery of the new centre.

“NHS Tayside remains committed to delivering the NTC-T in the future if funding becomes available.”

Delays to Fife health centres

Other delayed projects in Tayside and Fife include plans for new GP surgeries in Lochgelly and Kincardine – first promised in 2016.

NHS Fife was told no funding is likely to be available for the project until at least 2026.

Graeme Downie, Scottish Labour’s candidate for Dunfermline and Dollar in the upcoming general election, said the community in Kincardine is “not a priority” for the SNP.

Scottish Labour’s Dunfermline and Dollar candidate Graeme Downie

He said:”The SNP have known about the need for a new health centre in Kincardine since at least 2016 but have failed to deliver, breaking promises and failing the local community that has campaigned relentlessly to get the local health services they deserve.

“All we have had is excuses and delays but it is time for the SNP to come clean on when they will finally deliver for people in Kincardine and I will do anything I can to support the local community in their campaign.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The UK government did not inflation-proof its capital budget which has resulted in nearly a 10% real-terms cut in the Scottish government’s capital funding over the medium-term between 2023-24 and 2027-28.

Emphasis on ‘essential equipment replacement’

“Our emphasis for the immediate future will be on addressing backlog maintenance and essential equipment replacement.

“As a result of the cut in our capital budget, a revised infrastructure investment plan will be published in the spring and all due consideration will be given to what projects can be included within that revised plan.”