NHS Tayside will be able to cope with the financial demands of a new specialist unit at Ninewells Hospital, Nicola Sturgeon has insisted.
The First Minister hailed the potential impact of Dundee’s proposed £40 million elective treatment centre.
On a visit to Arden House in Fife, a voluntary organisation which provides day centre services for older people living independently, the First Minister hailed the plans, which would mean procedures such as hip, knee and cataract procedures would be treated as quickly as possible.
She said: “By having the focus on planned procedures it reduces the potential for these operations to be cancelled because an emergency case comes in. It is something you are seeing across different countries, an increasing separation of planned treatment from emergency treatment.
“It will have a big impact and, I think, be of huge benefit to people in Fife and Tayside because it will give them more direct access to a centre like that rather than having to go to Clydebank.”
By 2035 it is estimated 100,000 of these procedures will need to be carried out annually but, despite central funding, the facilities will require added operational cost from a health board which has been bailed out three times on the bounce by ministers.
It emerged last October that NHS Tayside needed a £14.2m Scottish Government loan to break even this year.
Ms Sturgeon said: “We will work with NHS Tayside, as we will with other health boards, as we develop these centres but also as we develop centres more generally.”
She added: “We provide brokerage finance for health boards in certain circumstances, NHS Tayside is not completely alone in that, and of course the finances of our health boards are in a much better state than many health trusts south of the border.
“Part of the solution to pressure the health service faces is this separation of planned and emergency care but also investing more in social care and primary care, trying to keep people out of hospital. So reform is as important as investment.”