Edinburgh's Eye Pavilion: Audit Scotland urged to investigate £1 million already spent on new hospital

Scotland’s public spending watchdog is being asked to investigate the £1 million already invested in a replacement for Edinburgh’s Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion before the Scottish Government decided to pull the plug on the project.

Saturday, 27th March 2021, 7:00 am

Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs wants Audit Scotland to look at the money spent on drawing up plans for the new hospital at Little France after the government approved it in principle in 2018 and also at the potentially costly refurbishment of the existing Eye Pavilion which may be ordered now ministers have said they will not fund the replacement.

In a letter to to the Auditor General, Mr Briggs says: "There seems to be a total disconnect between what Scottish Government Ministers now say regarding a replacement eye hospital and the significant amount of taxpayers’ money which has already been spent on the project.

“In the interest of value for money and given the significant importance for improving ophthalmology services in Edinburgh and the East of Scotland I would be grateful if Audit Scotland would consider investigating the money and resources already spent towards a replacement eye hospital and also the potential financial costs around a potential refurbishment or the current Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion.”

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More than £1m was spent planning the new hospital

Information released last month revealed a total of £1,011,253 had already been spent on the new hospital, including £640,054 for main contractors John Graham Construction and £127,727 on the internal project team.

A figure of £17m has been mentioned for refurbishing the existing pavilion but former director Dr Hector Chawla has described the building as “clapped out” with leaks in the roof, cracked walls and lifts which keep breaking down. "It would be pointless spending any money on it," he told the Evening News earlier this month.

Mr Briggs said the financial commitment of over £1m to the new hospital showed how serious NHS Lothian was about the project.

He went on: “Ophthalmology waiting times have become exceptionally long in NHS Lothian and a new hospital is central to meeting performance targets.

“I have written to Audit Scotland to investigate the money spent so far. It is vital that people in Edinburgh and the Lothians get a new eye hospital, but also receive value for money, with alternative models of care potentially costing more in the long run.”

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