Doctors have urged the Scottish Government to bring back a “life-changing” procedure for stroke patients that removes blood clots from their brains.
Medics say the thrombectomy surgery, which is available on the NHS in England, reduces disability and improves recovery chances.
The procedure was withdrawn in Scotland in 2017 but now doctors and campaigners want it to be reintroduced.
The Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland (CHSS) charity and 25 medics have signed a letter urging the Scottish Government to fund the surgery and set out a timetable for the procedure to be brought back.
CHSS estimates the annual cost of treating the 600 patients who could benefit from the procedure would be between £7.5million and £10 million, but argues there would be savings from the reduced need for complex hospital care.
The charity’s chief executive Jane-Claire Judson said: “It is vital that a thrombectomy service is up and running in 2019.
“Too many stroke patients have already been denied this life-changing treatment. They can’t wait any longer.
“There is concern in hospitals up and down the country and this letter shows the strength of feeling amongst clinicians.
“The reality is that right now people with stroke across Scotland are missing out on their best chance of recovery simply because they live north of the border.
“That is the worst kind of situation for both doctors and their patients.”
She added: “This is a procedure that changes lives and reduces the need for expensive long-term care.
“We want to see a clear date by which thrombectomy will be available and a clear commitment that funding will be unlocked for this vital service.
“This is taking longer than patients would expect and every delay will have real consequences on people’s lives.”
One of the last Scottish stroke victims to undergo the procedure was Robert Baldock from East Lothian, who was treated in March 2017.
The 53-year-old said the surgery has enabled him to live independently and has been campaigning for other Scots to be able to have the operation.
“I know first-hand the life-changing benefits of this procedure,” Mr Baldlock said.
“My stroke has cost me my voice and I can no longer walk without support, however, I’ve survived to live a full and independent life.
“Without a thrombectomy things would have been so much worse.
“For me, my only option was a thrombectomy. Looking back I remember the incredible fear I felt whilst waiting to find out if I was going to be able to receive the procedure and the frightening possibility of not surviving without it. I feel like one of the lucky ones.
“It’s time that all patients in Scotland get access to thrombectomy.
“They shouldn’t have to face the fear that I did without even having the hope of thrombectomy.”
Jeane Freeman, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, said: “I want us to be able to offer this service in appropriate sites across Scotland.
“I asked for the work of the directors of planning looking at that to be brought forward so we have a conclusion from them in January, at which point we will be able to make some decisions about how we are then going to roll that out.”