Victims of disgraced NHS Tayside neurosurgeon Sam Eljamel say there are “furious” at Humza Yousaf after he refused to confirm their hard-won public inquiry will start this year.
Four months after their victory, an expert has still not been appointed to lead the probe.
Those who went under Dr Eljamel’s knife have long called for an inquiry – requests which were repeatedly denied for nearly a decade.
Asked about a timeline for the inquiry on Monday, Mr Yousaf promised there would be progress but stopped short of a commitment that it would begin this year.
Responding to his comments, campaigners Pat Kelly and Jules Rose said they were “absolutely furious”.
Ms Rose, from Kinross, said: “It is now four months since the First Minister Humza Yousaf announced this public inquiry.
“Just how long does it take to appoint a chair? All we hear is discussions about appointing a senior chair and that this is at an advanced stage. We heard this weeks ago.
“We all know things are slow and take time in this area, but a snail moves faster than that.
“The length of time this is taking is totally unacceptable.”
‘Humza Yousaf is like the Grand Old Duke of York’
Ms Rose was operated on twice by Eljamel. The surgeon removed her tear gland rather than a tumour in August 2013.
An internal report – understood to be the catalyst for the government’s U-turn on a public inquiry – found Ms Rose’s operation had taken place two months after NHS Tayside should have suspended Eljamel.
Pat Kelly, another victim of the surgeon, said he feared some patients could die before the inquiry completes its work.
“Humza Yousaf is like the Grand Old Duke of York,” the former Dundee DJ said.
“He is marching patients up to the top of the hill and then hanging us out to dry.
“We need to get this process underway as soon as possible.
“We have an excellent team of solicitors waiting to start, but they cannot do anything until funding is in place.”
Yousaf promises ‘progress’
On Monday, Mr Yousaf told The Courier: “2024 will undoubtedly be a year where we will see progress on that public inquiry.
“All of us want to see answers to the questions that many victims of Professor Eljamel’s have.”
Asked about the progress of the inquiry, a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We understand how important the public inquiry is for former patients of Mr Eljamel.
“The Lord President has been involved in the process of appointing a chair and discussions are now at an advanced stage.
“Planning for the independent clinical review of individual cases for those former patients who would like to participate is also well underway.
“Further details will be shared publicly as soon as possible and, as with the announcement of the public inquiry, we will ensure that former patients are informed directly wherever possible.”