NHS Lothian has said the review it was ordered to conduct by the government will not be concluded until the end of April and that will still leave options to be considered within the board, meaning there is no chance of a clear outcome before polling day on May 6.
The decision by ministers not to fund the new hospital planned at Little France as a replacement for the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion on Chalmers Street sparked a public outcr and cross-party calls for a rethink.
The government claims advances in eyecare mean many services can be delivered in the community and want NHS Lothian to disperse provision across the region, but experts insist a new hospital is essential.
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Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs asked the health board about the timetable for its review of eyecare services.
The reply he received from NHS Lothian said: “Our process reviewing clinical pathways will conclude at the end of April. The output of this work will inform an option appraisal on future models of care and accommodation that will be considered by NHS Lothian. Clarity on specific options for wider engagement will be thereafter.”
Mr Briggs, said the decision not to fund a new hospital had left the board in a difficult position.
He said: “A replacement eye hospital is clearly the best option for patients’ quality of care, reducing waiting times and ophthalmology research.
“NHS Lothian have been told to go back to the drawing board, when in reality we needed a new hospital yesterday.
“SNP ministers have made a political calculation to drag this decision out till after an election.
“It is concerning that voters will not know what is planned before the election. That is why it is essential for all candidates and parties to pledge their support for a replacement Eye Hospital. If not, then we will see the closure of the Eye Pavilion and the movement towards the centralisation of eye services in Scotland.”