Health chiefs look at plans for new £50m eye pavilion

The current Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion on Chalmers Street. Picture: Greg Macvean
The current Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion on Chalmers Street. Picture: Greg Macvean
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AMBITIOUS plans have been set in motion for a £50 million purpose-built eye pavilion in the Capital.

The current Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion, in Chalmers Street, has been deemed unfit for purpose by health bosses, who are seeking to build a state-of-the-art new facility to cope with the 67,000 patients using the service each year.

A previous suggestion of moving the facility to the neighbouring Lauriston Building was shelved and NHS Lothian is now considering constructing a new eye pavilion at the new ERI site. Jim Crombie, chief officer of acute services, said: “The technology and capability advancements that are now in play in opthamology pretty much show that about 90 per cent of care and intervention – actual surgical intervention – can take place in a day surgery environment.

“Currently we are providing the service in a pretty old building, which is fine, but there is a real opportunity to create a modern facility that recognises the technology and the advancements that are in play and exploits them.”

The initial idea has been given the go-ahead but a full business case needs to be drawn up, and further approval will be needed from the Scottish Government.

Mr Crombie hopes the new pavilion will be up and running by 2018/19. Opthamology is NHS Lothian’s largest outpatient department and also its biggest success story, as the health board has slashed the backlog of patients waiting for treatment more than 12 weeks to nearly zero, Mr Crombie said.

NHS Lothian is currently looking at a major overhaul of its eye services, including working more with optometrists in the community so they can assist in making referrals to consultants.

Lothians Labour MSP Sarah Boyack said: “It’s good news that we will see a brand new eye pavilion as the current facilities were deemed not fit for purpose several years ago.

“Given the huge number of outpatient visits it’s vital that the issue of accessibility is factored into the development of the new building if it is to be located at the new ERI site.”

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw added: “This sounds like great news and a much-needed investment.”

lizzy.buchan@edinburghnews.com