THE under-pressure Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion will move to new premises by the end of the year.
Health bosses revealed in 2012 that the building was “nearing the end of its useful life” and last year was deemed no longer fit for purpose.
Since then, soaring demand caused by the ageing population has meant it has struggled to bring waiting times under control.
Now there are plans to move the Chalmers Street centre to a new location – with the neighbouring Lauriston Building at the top of the list. NHS Lothian chief executive Tim Davison said bosses were keen for the move to happen in 2014.
He said: “It is not fit for purpose and has been one of the biggest waiting time challenges. We have come to the conclusion the hospital is past its sell by date.
“We are looking at a range of options in terms of how to replace it and one is to transfer it over the road to the Lauriston Building at Lauriston Place.
“Another option was to redevelop the Eye Pavilion either at the ERI, the Western General or St John’s.”
He said that although St John’s was probably the most suitable in terms of space, moving outwith the Capital was likely to be prove unpopular.
Many patients requiring treatment at the pavilion are older, have problems with vision and may have accessibility issues.
He said: “It is an older population with impaired vision so we want services to be as accessible as can be.”
Outpatient cases have steadily improved with 605 going over the three- month national guidelines for waiting times in January this year, down from a peak of more than 1100 six months earlier.
Inpatient or day cases were slashed from 251 in July last year to 57 in November 2013 but crept back up to 88 in January, highlighting the need for better treatment facilities.
Politicians welcomed the news, saying services have been stretched for “too long”.
Lothian MSP Sarah Boyack said: “It has been acknowledged for some time that the Eye Pavilion is not fit for purpose and I am aware of concerns that the lack of capacity is creating increasing pressure on stretched clinical staff.
“It is vital that these plans are put in place as quickly as possible. Older people experience more deterioration of eye sight and often need to have regular check-ups, increasing the pressure on resources.
“However, it is clear that more needs to be done to ensure that the service is properly staffed with concerns about the ability of the health board to recruit trainees and consultants.”
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said the talk needed to become “a reality”. He added: “With so many health services across Scotland moving out of town, the opportunity to keep some in the centre should be welcomed.”