Health chiefs have announced ambitious plans to build a £35 million “centre of excellence” for planned surgeries at Perth Royal Infirmary.
The Scottish Government-funded Tayside Elective Care Centre aims to meet the demands of the region’s growing population.
The specialist complex is likely to offer a range of procedures such as breast surgery, gynaecology, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, urology, dermatology and ear, nose and throat treatments.
An outline business case is being prepared for the new build facility which will include theatres, treatment room and accommodation for before and after operations.
Designs are also expected to feature a post-surgery inpatient unit for people who require a short stay in hospital after procedures.
The proposal has been shaped by healthcare planners and surgical teams at a series of virtual workshops. Further consultation will take place over the coming months.
If all goes to plan, work could begin next year and the first patients could arrive in late 2024.
The Scottish Government has pledged £35 million towards the project, as part of a nation-wide investment plan.
“A recognised centre of excellence”
Chief executive of NHS Tayside Grant Archibald said: “The planned elective care centre would allow us to carry out hundreds of additional routine operations every year, and make PRI a centre of excellence for planned surgery.
“The development of the Tayside centre would see a significant investment at Perth Royal Infirmary, underlining NHS Tayside’s commitment to providing first-class healthcare from the PRI site for the future.
“PRI has the potential to be a recognised centre of excellence and all the teams in the hospital are looking forward to developing the plans further.”
Consultant anaesthetist and clinical director for the Tayside Elective Care Centre, Dr Michael Forster, added: “This is such an exciting development because it has the ability to transform the ways in which our patients receive elective care.
“The model is being developed by clinicians and other healthcare professionals, patients and members of the public.”
Lorna Wiggins, chief operating officer at NHS Tayside, said it was an opportunity to create capacity over the next 15 to 20 years for elective procedures.
“Complex surgery will be done at Ninewells, PRI will do intermediate and low-risk, and Strathcathro will do low-risk and regional work with NHS Grampian,” she said.
“Significant work is going on with respect to the workforce and we have already started to recruit some positions, particularly around advance practice nurses to make sure the workforce is in place by the time the centre options.”
Councillor Eric Drysdale (SNP), a non-executive member of the NHS Tayside Board, added: “This is a hugely welcome multi-million pound project which will greatly enhance the NHS’s ability to deliver a wide range of elective surgery services at PRI from 2024.
“I am delighted to see the careful planning that is going on to make best use of the hospital site, and with construction of these state of the art facilities due to begin next year I can’t wait to see this major investment in Perth and Kinross become a reality.”
Deputy First Minister John Swinney described the announcement as “hugely positive news”, and said it was “further evidence of the Scottish Government’s commitment to providing high-quality, accessible healthcare to the people of Perthshire.”
The Perthshire North MSP added: “The elective care centre will ensure that the needs of a growing population are met for years to come.”
It comes after Conservative MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife Liz Smith launched a petition campaign in 2018 against what she saw as a “downgrading” of A&E services in Perth.
She said the elective centre announcement was “very welcome news for health care across Tayside”.
“I hope it will soon be accompanied by further commitments to secure the future of several other key facilities at Perth Royal Infirmary,” she said.
“PRI remains one of the most precious assets in the local community which is why the public have rightly been very anxious about recent rumours amongst health service officials that PRI was set to lose other vital services.”