THE cost of building a new world class hospital at Inverness campus has increased yet again and now sits at more than £34 million, amid concerns NHS Highland will struggle to staff it.
The elective treatment centre planned for 2021 to perform hip, knee and cataract surgery had been expected to cost £16 million when plans were unveiled in 2015.
The costs jumped to £27 million and now a report asking Tuesday’s meeting of the health board to approve the facility’s outline business case reveals it is likely to cost more than £34 million.
Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart, has welcomed the centre but has written to health bosses to ask about the jump in costs.
And Highland Conservative MSP Edward Mountain fears NHS Highland will struggle to recruit highly-trained staff.
NHS Highland said the higher building costs were due to inflation, enhanced car parking and landscaping and a larger floor space, particularly in the ophthalmology unit.
Asked about recruitment fears, a spokesman said the facility "gives us the best chance of attracting people to work in the Highlands".
The centre will run orthopaedic surgery and ophthalmology services – specialising in eye and vision care – to patients across the whole of the north of Scotland "releasing capacity for emergency care at Raigmore".
Mr Mountain said: "I have welcomed the fact that we are getting an elective care centre in the Highlands. At this stage, I am most concerned whether NHS Highland is going to be able to sufficiently staff the centre, especially with regard to radiology services."
A spokesman for NHS Highland said: "The staffing scheduled based on discussions to date are explored within the outline business case and we are confident that the development of the elective care facility and the relationship we have with the University of the Highlands and Islands and Highlands and Islands Enterprise will continue to encourage people to want to come to the area to work."