Scotland's First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to build a series of NHS treatment centres in a £200m drive if her party is re-elected following next May's Holyrood elections. She is expected to make the announcement later today (17 October).
Should her party retain government after the elections she is expected to extend the Golden Jubilee hospital in Clydebank and build new facilities at hospitals in Livingston, Edinburgh, Dundee, Inverness and Aberdeen to deal with an ageing Scottish population and a growing demand for age-related ailments, including cataract operations and hips and knees replacement. Treatment centres would be opened within five years and are expected to increase the number of planned operations in Scotland by 50% by 2025.
The First Minister is expected to tell the party faithful that will be gathered at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre: "By 2037, the number of people who are over 70 will increase by 50%. The numbers over 75 will increase by almost 80%. Something I hear time and again from my older constituents is how a hip or knee replacement or a cataract operation has given them a new lease of life. These operations make a real difference.
"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 10 or 20 years ahead, our NHS will be overwhelmed by demand."
Sturgeon is also expected to challenge Prime Minister David Cameron on the UK's membership of the EU and what Scotland can expect from his renegotiations with Brussels. She will accuse the Conservative leader of playing "fast and loose" with the situation, but to call for a positive campaign to keep both Scotland and the UK within the EU. The leader of Scotland's separatist party has already said that a second independence referendum for her country will be "unstoppable" if the UK votes to leave the EU in its own referendum in 2018.
She is also expected to reveal that the SNP will vote against military intervention by the UK in Syria, and insist that British airstrikes will only add to the "already unimaginable human suffering" in the region and will fail to bring the conflict to an end.
Sturgeon has already unveiled that her party will target building 50,000 affordable homes during the next four-year parliament, should it be elected as part of a £3bn plan.