Aberdeen’s trauma centre could be finished as early as 2018, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has told Holyrood.
Ms Sturgeon came under fire from opposition leaders after she admitted there would be a three-year delay in completion of Scotland’s trauma network across Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh earlier this week.
But at FMQs the FM said Aberdeen’s trauma centre was expected to be completed ahead of those in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
She said: “We expect the trauma centre in Aberdeen to be completed before Edinburgh and Glasgow, probably over the next year to 18 months.
“Aberdeen is getting the trauma centre some people thought it should not get at all.
“This is not about building things from scratch but joining up what these four centres already do with the work of hospitals in other parts of the country and, crucially, with the ambulance service.”
Ms Sturgeon added one of the first steps would be to open a 24/7 trauma desk within the Scottish Ambulance Service.
However, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale put pressure on the FM to admit the delay would cost lives.
Aberdeen’s trauma centre is expected to save 40 lives each year when fully operational.
Ms Dugdale said: “I visited staff at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary recently and they told me this trauma centre could be the difference between life and death for people in the North-east.
“From serious car crashes to accidents on the rigs they were clear that having access to world class trauma care could be a life-saver.
“Those medics told me what they are telling the Scottish Government – more delays will cost lives.”
Ms Sturgeon said the delay was unavoidable but had come about as her party pushed for four trauma centres instead of two in the Central Belt.
She said: “This is an integrated approach based on the right evidence.”