Health campaigners said they were furious at a delay in the delivery of a CT scanner at Caithness General Hospital in Wick.
A scanner for the hospital was approved last year
NHS Highland's board approved the purchase of the equipment last year.
NHS Highland said it was being tendered for in conjunction with similar scanners for Oban and the Western Isles in the next financial year.
Meanwhile, patients in the far north face a 200-mile (321km) round trip to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.
A CT scanner is used in the care of people who have suffered strokes as well as for patients with other neurological conditions and some types of cancer.
George Bruce, chairman of Caithness and North Sutherland Health Forum, said the hold up was "very disappointing".