Edinburgh's new eye hospital: Campaigners urge council candidates to keep up pressure

Blind and partially-sighted campaigners are pressing council candidates to help ensure there are no further delays in the promised new hospital to replace Edinburgh’s ageing Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion.

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During last year’s Holyrood election campaign, Nicola Sturgeon U-turned on the Scottish Government’s effective cancellation of the hospital and promised it would go ahead. But latest indications from NHS Lothian are that the timetable for the project – already longer than campaigners had hoped – has slipped, with the operational date now given as June 2027 instead of December 2026.

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Now the grassroots campaign group Keep Edinburgh Eye Pavilion (KEEP) has written to all the main political parties ahead of today’s council elections, asking that candidates uphold pledges previously made. Parties on the city council put differences aside in March 2021 and unanimously passed a motion underlining the urgent need for a replacement hospital and promising to “stand up for Edinburgh”.

In their letter, KEEP say: "Across the Lothians, people with sight loss are becoming increasingly concerned about the ongoing delays to the promised replacement Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion.”

The point out the Eye Pavilion provides specialist ophthalmological care for thousands of people across the south-east of Scotland.

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"The existing building has been deemed not fit for purpose and is facing further reduced capacity through disrepair, resulting in waiting times and pressures on services becoming more acute.

"It is not acceptable that blind and partially sighted people are increasingly being asked to travel across the country to the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank to receive treatment. Patients frequently face lengthy delays if unable to travel there independently.”

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The latest indication is the new hospital may not be operational until June 2027

The letter asks councillors who are elected across the Lothian Health Board area to stick to existing pledges “and further work to ensure that the delays are reduced, that a clear timetable is given for when this project will start and be completed.”

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They also ask for a guarantee the councillors will meet with members of the KEEP campaign to discuss regularly once they are elected.

Sylvia Paton, from Corstorphine, who chairs KEEP, said they hoped councillors would reaffirm their support for the new hospital and keep up the pressure on the health board and the government for it to be built as soon as possible.

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"What we need them to do is agree the land, agree the planning permission and so on and nor create any more delays. We want to engage with them and get their support on the way forward.

"What we would like to do is save any more delays. It has been delayed long enough. The existing hospital has been deemed unfit for purpose since 2014. We’re now looking at June 2027. The longer it goes on, the worse it is. We really do want to keep the pressure up and get it as soon as we possibly can.

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NHS Lothian said last month the timetable for the new hospital was dependent on a number of factors and the projected operational date of 2027 had not been agreed with the Scottish Government and was still subject to change.

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