Edinburgh's Eye Pavilion: city council urged to throw its weight behind campaign for replacement to go ahead

The city council is to be asked to throw its weight behind the call for the Scottish Government to reverse its decision not to fund a new eye hospital for the Capital.

Saturday, 6th March 2021, 7:00 am
The Scottish Government has said it will no longer fund a replacement for the Princess Alexandria Eye Pavilion   Pic: Greg Macvean
The Scottish Government has said it will no longer fund a replacement for the Princess Alexandria Eye Pavilion Pic: Greg Macvean

Edinburgh Tory group leader Iain Whyte has tabled a motion for next week's full council meeting stressing the need to retain the current level of eyecare provision in the city and calling on council leader Adam McVey to write to the government demanding that funding is restored.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman told NHS Lothian in December the government would no longer fund a replacement for the existing Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion despite signing up to the project in 2018. Instead she said services should be dispersed, with many operations moved to a new elective care centre due to be built in Livingston.

Cllr Whyte's motion “notes with concern that the Scottish Government has withdrawn the funding promised” for the new hospital; points out the current building is over 50 years old and has been deemed “not fit for purpose” by NHS Lothian; highlights “extremely long” waiting times for routine treatments such as for glaucoma and cataract removal; argues NHS Lothian has been “consistently underfunded” over many years; warns against eyecare services being “dispersed” to West Lothian; and instructs the council leader to write to the Health Secretary demanding reinstatement of the cut in infrastructure funding and seeking “full and fair” funding for NHS Lothian in future.

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Cllr Whyte said: “The council works closely with the NHS as partners. These are services that are really important to the people of Edinburgh and the council should be standing up for Edinburgh residents and saying we shouldn’t let the capital city lose what is a valuable and highly respected service.

“It is clear the money was promised back in 2018 to rebuild the eye hospital and that's a promise to Edinburgh that should be kept.”

He said he hoped politicians from all parties would support the motion.

Celebrated eye surgeon Dr Hector Chawla, former director of the Eye Pavilion, has condemned the plan to scrap the new eye hospital and disperse services across Lothian as "vandalism" and "a step back into the dark ages". He warned expecting people to travel long distances meant more people would miss appointments, increasing the risk of them losing their sight.

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