Edinburgh's Eye Pavilion: Tories demand new hospital is included in Scottish Government budget
Conservatives at Holyrood are calling for the reinstatement of funding for a new Edinburgh eye hospital to be included in the Scottish Government’s budget.
MSPs are due to debate the SNP’s spending plans on Thursday and without an overall majority the government needs support from at least one other party to get the budget passed.
Lothian MSP and Tory chief whip Miles Briggs said his party had agreed to push for the new hospital – which was expected to receive £45m of capital funding until the government told NHS Lothian in December it would no longer fund the project – as part of its budget demands. He said he hoped Lothian MSPs from other parties would support the call.
There is already been cross-party pressure for the government to reconsider its position and Mr Briggs has started a petition urging a rethink.
The current Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion on Chalmers Street is deemed no longer fit for purpose and the government signed up for a new eye hospital at Little France in an initial agreement in 2018, but now claims eyecare services should be dispersed across Lothian, with most operations being carried out at an elective treatment centre due to be built in Livingston.
Yesterday, Dr Hector Chawla, a celebrated eye surgeon and former director of the Eye Pavilion, wrote in the Evening News that scattering services across the region was “a step back into the dark ages” and warned expecting people to travel to Livingston risked them not turning up and going on to lose their sight.
Mr Briggs said: “Since the announcement by NHS Lothian that SNP ministers had withdrawn funding for a replacement Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion, there has been overwhelming professional and public support for a new hospital.
“It is very obvious from the cross-party campaign that a new hospital is essential for high standard of eye care in Edinburgh and the East of Scotland, which is why we are calling for funding for a new hospital to be included in the upcoming budget. It’s time for SNP to think again.
“The arguments for a new eye hospital and the benefits it would bring are irrefutable.
“A new hospital will be essential to improving ophthamology waiting times in NHS Lothian, as services recover from the impact of Covid-19.”
He said including funding for the new hospital in the budget was a red line for him. "I don’t intend to support the budget unless they put that money back.
“It’s about fairness- this is something they had committed to deliver for people in Edinburgh and have snatched away. It’s a decision they took to take the money away, it’s a decision they can take to put it back.
“And when the capital budget is increasing it seems hugely unfair that Lothian is again going to lose out – we’re already the lowest-funded health board anyway, but to lose more for infrastructure isn’t on.”
He said there was a lot of investment required in NHS Lothian and in the NHS estate across Scotland. “The last thing we should be doing is taking money away from these projects.”