DEDICATED new treatment centres are to be built at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and St John’s Hospital in Livingston to carry out hip, knee and cataract operations.
The extra theatres and bed capacity will help cater for a massive projected increase in the need for such operations as the number of older people increases.
The announcement will be made by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in her closing address to the SNP conference in Aberdeen this afternoon.
The new centres at ERI and St John’s will cost between £45 and 50 million. They are part of a bigger £200m package, which will see similar centres built in Aberdeen, Inverness and Dundee.
They will be modelled on the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank, which already specialises in planned operations, taking pressure off emergency hospitals.
Ms Sturgeon will tell the conference the model is being extended because it has proved a “huge success”.
Scotland currently carries out 15,000 hip and knee operations and 42,000 cataract operations every year, but these figures are expected to grow by 30 per cent over the next decade.
Ms Sturgeon will say: “I hear time and again from my older constituents how a hip or knee replacement or a cataract operation has given them a new lease of life.
“These operations make a real difference.
“More of them are being done than ever before. And waiting times are shorter than when we took office.
“But as more people live longer into old age, more and more of these operations will need to be done.
“If we don’t prepare now for ten and 20 years ahead, our NHS will be overwhelmed by the demand.”
She will say the network of new treatment centres will help make the NHS “fit for the future”.
By 2037, the number of over-70s in Scotland’s population is forecast to grow by around 50 per cent, with the number of over-75s set to increase by almost 80 per cent.
The First Minister will say: “Those changing demographics will demand new ways of thinking and new ways of working right across our society, but especially in our NHS.”
She is also expected to use her speech to promise the SNP’s manifesto for next year’s Holyrood elections will “rise to the challenges of the future”.
She will say: “Over these next few months, as we prepare to seek re-election, I won’t pretend that we are perfect.
“But I will promise this – we will always strive to be the best that we can be. And we will serve this country with imagination, courage, humility and always to the very best of our abilities.”
Ms Sturgeon will also say the choice at the election will be about more than individual policies.
“It’s about who you trust most – as your government and your First Minister – to provide the experience, the leadership, the ambition, the character and the unity of purpose to lead this country forward with confidence.”
Meanwhile, in a magazine interview, Ms Sturgeon said she also intended to contest the 2021 Holyrood elections as SNP leader, “all being well”.
The First Minister said that as she had been in the job less than a year, after succeeding Alex Salmond last November, it would be “rather strange” if she was considering stepping down.
She said: “If I win the next election, and I take nothing for granted, then it will be my plan to also fight the election after that as leader as well, all being well and unforeseen circumstances aside.”
She insisted she was “absolutely” enjoying the job, despite controversies surrounding Edinburgh West MP Michelle Thomson’s business dealings and the Scottish Government’s decision to award public cash to the T in the Park music festival.