Moray patients seeking specialist pain relief will need to travel for treatment to Aberdeen for at least another two years.
The reinstatement of a specialist clinic at Elgin’s Dr Gray’s Hospital had been expected by the end of last year – but health chiefs now admit that it is unlikely to arrive until 2016 at the earliest.
There has been no specialist to treat Moray patients since 2012, when a consultant specialist resigned from the post at the Moray hospital. While a replacement was identified but the associate specialist retired in April 2013 and attempts to fill it since have failed.
Highlands and Islands MSP Mary Scanlon contacted NHS Grampian expressing her disappointment at the time – and was given a promise that the service would be restored by the end of 2013.
Mrs Scanlon said: “While I understand that there has been recruitment problems which mean the clinic could not be opened last year, I am incredibly concerned that the date NHS Grampian are now working towards is 2016.
”This is an unacceptable timescale for the many patients in Moray who have to suffer the long and painful journeys to Aberdeen or remain in Moray without the specialist care offered to other patients in Grampian.”
A spokeswoman for NHS Grampian admitted that it was hoped a full compliment of medical staff would be in place at Dr Gray’s by the end of last year. She said: “The pain service currently has three pain consultants and has a consultancy vacancy since 2012.
”The post was advertised on two separate occasions last year but failed to attract a suitable candidate. The service is aware of trainees who may be interested in a consultant post in Grampian.
”However, they will not complete their training until 2016. We understand how frustrating and distressing this can be for patients to travel between the Elgin area and Aberdeen, especially given the pain they are in, and we apologise.”