Leader: ‘Vision for the future needs spelled out’

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THE Royal Victoria has seen it all over the last few months, from closure and For Sale signs, to reopening and 
expansion.

It has been quite a turnaround for the hospital which was deemed surplus to requirements only last August.

No wonder many people are confused – and in some cases angered – by proposals to close three other hospitals in the Capital – Astley Ainslie, Liberton and Corstorphine.

How can we be sure, they wonder, that these hospitals won’t be needed more desperately than ever once they have been shut down and perhaps sold off?

Some of our hospital buildings are clearly no longer up to scratch, without enough single rooms to prevent the spread of contagious viruses, or even, in some cases, enough sinks to meet modern 
hygiene standards.

Replacing these buildings is vastly expensive and it is easy to see how selling some off in order to invest in new ones might be a sensible step.

One thing for sure is that our ageing population with its increasingly complex health problems is going to need more care than 
ever.

It is reassuring to know that NHS Lothian now has more hospital beds than it has had for many years, but promises of more and better care in our own homes, care homes and hospitals is still worryingly vague.

Apart from the about turn on the Royal Victoria, the Royal Infirmary was initially built at Little France without enough beds, while at the city council it has proved impossible to draw up and stick to a longterm plan for school buildings.

Population trends change and the people in charge do too, but Edinburgh has seen enough failures in long-term planning to be sceptical about new masterplans.

The vision for the future of our health care needs to be spelled out in far greater detail before it will offer any solid reassurance.