Edinburgh's new eye hospital could face new delay before project is even formally approved
The Scottish Government is being blamed for a potential new delay in building a replacement for Edinburgh's Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion before the project is even formally approved.
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Ministers have pledged a new eye hospital next to the Royal Infirmary at Little France will go ahead after saying last year they would not fund it.
But a report to today's meeting of the NHS Lothian board warns the time lost due to the uncertainty over the new hospital means they might have to retender a key contract for the project, leading to a four-month delay and a cost increase.
Campaigners are already angry that the current timetable for the hospital would not see it completed until December 2026.
The outline business case for the project has been agreed and NHS Lothian is now working on the full business case, which is due for approval in June 2024.
Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs, said: “The fact that we could now see these potential delays and additional costs is very much down to the cancellation of funding by SNP ministers for the new eye hospital."
The government agreed in principle to a replacement for the current Eye Pavilion in 2018 but pulled the plug on it in December 2020 before U-turning earlier this year after a public outcry.
The report to the health board says that "given the passing of time" since the appointment of a principal supply chain partner (PSCP) to develop and programme the project, "there may be a requirement to re-tender for PSCP services rather than re-engage".
It continues: "The board are currently considering the balance of risk in relation to a legal challenge from an aggrieved PSCP against a programme prolongation of up to four months with associated inflationary cost increase."
Mr Briggs said: “Sadly we have seen a year lost to taking forward the planning and discussions around a replacement eye hospital.
“This has clearly resulted in the delays we have seen and reassessment of contracts now taking place to put forward the new business case to ministers.
“What we now need to see is priority being given to support the health board to overcome these concerns and make sure we see turf being cut as soon as possible to deliver this vital new hospital for Edinburgh and the East of Scotland.”
And Edinburgh Southern Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said the new hospital had been held up long enough.
He said: “We can’t have any further delays. The delays faced to date have ultimately been down to a Scottish Government that has chopped and changed its mind.
“Their dithering may now lead to an increase in costs and will ultimately be paid for by the people of Edinburgh and that is just not good enough.
“This project needs to be fast tracked, not held back.”
Lothian MSPs have been asking for a meeting with Health Secretary Humza Yousaf to discuss the new eye hospital since the Holyrood elections in May. He has said he will meet them “as soon as my diary allows”.