Cross-party support for call to rethink of Scottish Government decision not to fund new eye hospital for Edinburgh

The battle to force a rethink of the Scottish Government’s decision not to fund a new eye hospital for Edinburgh has won cross-party support in the Scottish Parliament.

Friday, 15th January 2021, 5:14 pm
Updated Saturday, 16th January 2021, 8:21 am
The Princess Alexandria Eye Pavilion on Chalmers Street was due to be replaced Picture: Greg Macvean

Labour and Lib Dem MSPs are among those backing a motion tabled by Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs voicing regret at the government’s announcement that it will not be in a position to finance a replacement for the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion in the foreseeable future.

Mr Briggs is hoping to stage a member’s debate on the motion which also argues NHS Lothian has been consistently underfunded and calls for “fair funding” from the budget due later this month.

The current pavilion on Chalmers Street was deemed unfit in 2015 and an initial agreement was reached two years ago on a £45 million replacement.

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But now the government is advising the health board to adopt a more “regional” approach and disperse some services to other hospitals, including a new elective care centre being built at Livingston.

Mr Briggs has secure the support of 21 other colleagues for his motion, including Edinburgh Southern Labour MSP Daniel Johnson, Lothian Labour MSP Neil Findlay and Edinburgh Western MSP and Lib Dem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton.

Mr Johnson said: “The Edinburgh Eye Pavilion isn’t just an important specialist unit for people in Edinburgh, it’s a real centre of excellence, we have leading eye surgeons and the sudden change of mind to not go ahead with a new unit and to move it looks rather like a downgrading of this service.

“There are serious questions as to what lies behind this decision and I will be pushing for it to be reversed.”

And Mr Cole-Hamilton said: "That our nation’s capital and one of the biggest population centres in Scotland should be without a dedicated eyecare facility is just astonishing. Considering the mismanagement by the Scottish Government has led to NHS Lothian haemorrhaging cash over the ill-fated Sick Kids hospital, the government has got a nerve in suggesting anyone with an eye condition who might by extension have mobility issues find their way to Livingston.

“I think it is incumbent on the Scottish Government to make good on veiled commitments that were made previously.”

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