Victims of a disgraced surgeon who left them with life-changing injuries have expressed renewed frustration at the Scottish Government's pace in setting up a public inquiry.

It is now four months since Humza Yousaf committed to appointing a chair to lead the probe but yesterday said he could not promise the inquiry would start this year.

Now campaigners Jules Rose and Pat Kelly have said they are furious at the First Minister's statement, saying victims could die before compensation is awarded or an inquiry is completed.

Between 1995 and 2013, Sam Eljamel botched more than 100 operations while working in Ninewells Hospital in Dundee as a neurosurgeon, leaving patients with serious and lifelong injuries.

READ MORE: Eljamel campaigner Jules Rose claims NHS Tayside 'tried to silence her'

Ms Rose 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."

A spokesperson said the Scottish Government understands the importance of the public inquiry to former patients of Mr Eljamel and added that discussions are at an "advanced stage".

Mr Eljamel removed Ms Rose's tear duct during a failed attempt to operate on a brain tumour and now the 55-year-old spearheads the campaign for patients' rights, alongside Mr Kelly.

Ms Rose added: "Then we have to have to wait for discussions between the chair and Scottish Government about the terms of reference.

"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 was asked on Monday by the Dundee Courier about the length of time it is taking to set up the public inquiry and said that this year "would see progress".

However, his words rung hollow with Mr Kelly, a former DJ and broadcaster who was forced into early retirement at 54 following botched back surgery.

Mr Kelly said: "Humza Yousaf is like the Grand Old Duke of York.

"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.

"We also see a clear case of dithering by the First Minister."

Mr Kelly is also pursuing the founding of a victim support fund for those affected by Mr Eljamel's malpractice.

The surgeon is believed to be working in Libya and is currently subject to multiple civil suits for compensation.

READ MORE: There must be a more edifying way for politicians to conduct themselves than this

He had been a head of neurosurgery at NHS Tayside and eventually voluntarily removed himself from the General Medical Council’s register.

There are attempts being made to have him extradited to Scotland.

Mr Kelly added: "On Thursday, September 7 last year, at First Minister's Questions, Mr Yousaf was asked by MSP Liz Smith if he would consider a victim support fund.

"He said there were appropriate routes for compensation but they could be difficult to navigate.

"To date there has been nothing said by the Scottish Government regarding compensation but then, why does that not surprise me?

"When will this compensation package begin?

"People may die before the public inquiry or compensation even starts.

"I was told by a medical expert I may lose five years of my life due to deconditioning. Other patients are in the same boat and may not see any compensation or a public inquiry."

The Scottish Government spokesperson said: "We understand how important the public inquiry is for former patients of Mr Eljamel.

"The Lord President has been involved 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."