NICOLA Sturgeon officially opened the new National Treatment Centre (NTC) at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy in her last official engagement as First Minister.

The Fife NTC is set to provide additional capacity for more than 700 orthopaedic procedures a year.

Ms Sturgeon, who opened the facility on Friday (March 24), 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.”

The new facility at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy includes an orthopaedic outpatients department, three surgical theatres and a ward and short stay unit.

This Fife centre is the first of four NTCs to open this year with the aim of addressing the backlog of planned care exacerbated by the pandemic. The three remaining facilities will open at NHS Highland, NHS Forth Valley and the Golden Jubilee Hospital.

Chair of the Fife NHS Board, the Rt Hon Tricia Marwick, added: “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.”