VIDEO: Eljamel victims stage coffin protest as new SNP health chief grilled

Victims of disgraced surgeon Sam Eljamel used a coffin to show their anger over delays to the long-awaited public inquiry.

Campaigners gathered outside the Scottish Parliament and grilled the new SNP health chief about when they can expect progress.

Patients harmed by the ex-NHS Tayside surgeon displayed a large banner reading “they dither, we die”, insisting further delays are unacceptable.

They watched on as a piper played while a coffin was carried.

Eljamel repeatedly botched operations on patients at Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital while employed by NHS Tayside between 1995 and 2013.

The coffin was greeted by a bagpiper.

Patients and loved ones of those harmed by the disgraced medic read out the harrowing ordeals they endured because of him during Wednesday’s demonstration.

A public inquiry into the fiasco was finally ordered by the Scottish Government last September after repeated protests outside Holyrood.

Hope isn’t damn good enough anymore.

– Campaigner Karen Hogg

More than five months on, lead campaigner Jules Rose said it was “atrocious” that victims had felt the need to return.

No one has been officially appointed to lead the public inquiry, nor has anyone been announced to lead a separate review of patients’ cases.

Neil Gray was grilled by protesters, including lead campaigner Jules Rose, on his right.

Ms Rose, from Kinross, said: “I did not think we’d be back here in February doing an even bigger protest.

“The eldest patient that has approached me was 80-years-old. I’ve got a lady here that’s 74. The clock’s ticking. We don’t have time to sit around.”

SNP health secretary Neil Gray – who went to the rally – faced tough questions from campaigners who insist a public inquiry should have been called years ago.

Former nurse Karen Ogg, who was given a botched spine operation by Eljamel, responded after the health minister said he hopes to give an update within weeks.

She told him: “Hope isn’t damn good enough anymore.”

Patients held a warning sign which read ‘they dither, we die’.

Mr Gray told The Courier: “There is due process that has to be gone through. I hope we can make swift progress.

“I fully understand the concerns that patients have. That’s why I’ve come out today.”

On whether an inquiry should have been called years ago, he said: “I can only answer to what has been established.”

Ms Rose said she was “not assured” by Mr Gray’s answers to her and other patients after speaking to him at the demonstration.

She said: “I wait in anticipation until I get that email inviting me in for a meeting with Neil Gray to tell me a chair is appointed. I’m not convinced it’s going to come anytime soon.”

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross. Image: PA.

Scottish Tory chief Douglas Ross, who was at the protest, said it was “hugely frustrating” that protesters felt compelled to return.

Mid Scotland and Fife Conservative MSP Liz Smith, who backed an inquiry, said patients had been left waiting an “inexcusable” length of time.

Dundee Labour MSP Michael Marra told us: “It is unacceptable. There’s something deeply wrong with the process, to be honest. This is also a question of political will.”

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