Edinburgh's Eye Pavilion: Review appears to back case for new hospital at Little France

A report by consultants called in to look at the future of eyecare in Lothian appears to back the case for a new eye hospital in the Capital.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 4:55 am

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The strategic review of ophthalmology services, ordered after the Scottish Government told NHS Lothian it would not fund a replacement for the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion, stresses the importance of locating different eyecare services, such as acute referrals, outpatients and inpatients, on the same site.

The report by Buchan & Associates, seen by the Evening News, says: "The overarching philosophy of care is to maintain and develop a Centre of Excellence for ophthalmic care including research, education and training within NHS Lothian."

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Design work on the new hospital was well advanced before the government said it would not fund the project
Design work on the new hospital was well advanced before the government said it would not fund the project

After a public outcry following the government's withdrawal of support for the new hospital, the government has now pledged it will after all fund a replacement for the Eye Pavilion, though it has not yet given any further details.

The government had said it wanted services dispersed across the region and proposed ore operations being carried out at St John's Hospital, Livingston..

The review does suggest a possible expansion of some services in East and West Lothian, but in line with the population of the area.

It proposes some increase in use of community optometrists, saying for unplanned eyecare, “a small proportion of cases could be seen by community optometry through sharing of images for a virtual consultation with hospital eyecare services”. But it added “this is dependent on improved e-Ophthalmology.”

And it says specialist clinics could be held in localities “where there is a minimum requirement for one clinic per fortnight to meet the needs of the catchment population”.

The report makes the case for inpatient care being on the same site as outpatient services. "To optimise the use of the workforce a co-location of admitted patients with outpatients is desirable. Clinical staff may flex between outpatients and admitted patient care at various points in the day and minimal distance between the two elements of care will make best use of the workforce.”

And in apparent support of locating the replacement hospital at Little France, next to the BioQuarter, it said: “There are key service delivery dependencies between training, education and research – in particular, supporting the unplanned eyecare on-call service by trainees, delivering the undergraduate ophthalmology module in all elements of care and in ensuring a viable and active research programme.”

Dr Alistair Adams, a consultant at the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion for over 30 years, said the report appeared to recommend a replacement of the Eye Pavilion lock, stock and barrel.

"Having read the report it seems clear the conclusion of the review is that the services provided by the Eye Pavilion should continue to be provided at a high level in a single unit.

"The original theory was they would disperse a lot into the community, but the report says there isn't much more you can disperse, maybe a little but not very much because it has already been done.

"The real thing we need the Scottish Government to do is reverse the decision on pull the plug on the money and to go ahead with the new hospital at Little France."

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