Nicola Sturgeon has carried out her final official engagement as Scotland’s First Minister, opening a £33 million treatment centre for orthopaedic surgery.
The National Treatment Centre at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, Fife, is intended to address the backlog of planned care exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ms Sturgeon opened the facility on Friday, with further centres due to open this year in NHS Highland, NHS Forth Valley and at the Golden Jubilee Hospital.
It was her final act as First Minister, with the result of the SNP leadership election to replace her expected on Monday afternoon.
She said: “Our National Treatment Centre programme is a significant investment in frontline planned care infrastructure and is a crucial part of our NHS recovery plan.
“We are determined to ensure people receive the treatment they need as soon as possible, so I am pleased to officially open the Fife centre, which will give people across the country faster access to life-changing orthopaedic surgery.
“The additional capacity provided through this new state-of-the-art facility will also help cut the backlog of planned care worsened by the global pandemic.
“With three further NTCs opening this year, I am confident this programme will be a significant boost to the NHS as it recovers from Covid.”
NHS Fife board chairwoman Tricia Marwick said: “We are delighted that the new National Treatment Centre in Fife has now opened its doors to patients.
“The new purpose-built facility is the culmination of many years of work and to see patients now being seen and treated in such a new, state-of-the-art environment is fantastic.
“To see the project delivered successfully and on budget, particularly given the additional challenges of building during a pandemic, is a credit to all of those involved.
“We are fortunate here in Fife to have an incredibly forward-thinking and innovative orthopaedic team, and this new facility will support them to deliver the very highest standard of care for patients.”
Ms Sturgeon took part in her final session of First Minister’s Questions on Friday, followed by her last speech in the Parliament chamber as head of the Scottish Government.
She was given a standing ovation after saying holding the post for the last eight years “truly has been the privilege of my lifetime”, and she thanked Scots for “placing your trust in me”.