Edinburgh's Eye Pavilion: cross-party call for clarity after Lib Dems claim progress on new hospital

MSPs campaigning for a new eye hospital for the Capital are asking ministers to spell out exactly what is now on the table after Lib Dems claimed to have won concessions on the issue in budget talks.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 7:00 am
Lib Dems say their deal with the Scottish Government paves the way for a replacement for the Princess Alexandria Eye Pavilion Pic: Greg Macvean

Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs, Edinburgh Southern Labour MSP Daniel Johnson have sent a joint letter to Health Secretary Jeane Freeman and Finance Secretary Kate Forbes asking for clarity over the future of eyecare services in Lothian.

Lib Dem health spokesman and Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton claimed on Tuesday his party's budget negotiations with the government had paved the way for a reversal of its decision not to fund a replacement for the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion.

But in her budget speech Ms Forbes appeared to stop short of a commitment on that. She told MSPs: "In light of calls for a replacement for the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion in Edinburgh we have asked NHS Lothian to carry out a review of its eyecare services and to reconsider how they should be delivered. I can commit to working with the board to implement its recommendations and protect specialised eye services for the city and the wider region."

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Mr Briggs said her remarks sounded very similar to what the government had said already.

He said: “Until the SNP provide a categorical guarantee that they will fund a replacement eye hospital for Lothian then we know this budget has not reversed the decision to cut £45m of funding from NHS Lothian and seen plans for a new replacement eye hospital at Little France scrapped.

“I hope the Lib Dems haven’t been hoodwinked into supporting an SNP budget which doesn’t deliver a new replacement eye hospital. It’s sadly become clear with this SNP Government that you have to count your fingers after shaking their hand."

Mr Johnson said Ms Forbes’ comments seemed to be “a step forward” but were “a long way short of a clear-cut guarantee” and the situation was still “very unclear”.

The joint letter includes detailed questions on a range of issues from delivery of emergency eye treatment and how changes will affect research to what consultation there has been with staff and the impact on patients.

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.

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