The government told NHS Lothian in December it would no longer fund a replacement for the Eye Pavilion despite signing up to the project in 2018.
Asked by Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs to include funding for a new eye hospital in the budget for next year, Ms Forbes told MSPs that NHS Lothian had been asked to carry out review of eyecare services as a whole and reconsider how they should be delivered.
“We recognise the Eye Pavilion requires investment. It is important we make the most out of our assets. That's why the Scottish government is committed to doubling our annual maintenance spend over the next five years alongside our capital spending review."
Mr Briggs said he had written to the Finance Secretary asking for the project to be included in the government’s spending plans, but Ms Forbes insisted the Conservatives had not raised the Eye Pavilion in budget negotiations.
Lothian Labour MSP Neil Findlay backed the call for the new eye hospital to proceed. He said: “The project was well-advanced, lots of money had been pend on its planning and that is further money that has been poured down the drain. The government is quite adept at pouring money down the drain. Will she finally admit to the patients of Lothian that the reason it has been cancelled is political decision by the government?”
Earlier this week Dr Hector Chawla, former director of the Eye Pavilion, said the existing building had leaking theatre roofs, cracked walls and lifts which kept breaking down. Refurbishment would be a waste of money, he argued. "I think the building is just clapped out.”
Mr Briggs later said he was disappointed Ms Forbes had dismissed his call despite growing support from health experts and the public for a change of heart.
“SNP ministers seem oblivious to the serious concerns being raised about the delivery of ophthalmology treatments in NHS Lothian if a new hospital is not delivered.”