Edinburgh's new eye hospital: MSP calls roundtable consultation amid concerns over delays

Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack is to host a roundtable consultation with campaigners and others amid concerns that Edinburgh's promised new eye hospital is facing delays before plans have even been approved.

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Ms Boyack said the current Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion provided lifeline services for people in Lothian but had been declared not fit for purpose eight years ago and the delivery of a replacement hospital was a matter of urgency.

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The Scottish Government told NHS Lothian in December 2020 it would not fund a new hospital despite supporting the project in 2018. But following a public outcry and pressure from politicians across the spectrum and the medical profession, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made a U-turn in the run-up to last year’s Scottish Parliament elections and promised to fund a new eye hospital after all.

However, Ms Boyack said the promised replacement for the Eye Pavilion seemed already to have fallen behind schedule.

The Evening News reported in April how the latest report to the NHS Lothian board referred to an operational date for the new building of June 2027, a full six months later than previously outlined.

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Ms Boyack said: “Campaigners thought they had won the battle last year when the Scottish Government confirmed that the Eye Pavilion would be replaced, not just renewed.

“However, with it being unclear if NHS Lothian have even secured a site for building work and no planning application having been lodged with Edinburgh City Council there is a real danger that the timescale previously indicated by the Scottish Government is already behind before building work has even begun.

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Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack (left) with campaigners Sylvia Paton, Ronnie Wilkes and Joan Kerr.

“Campaigners and patients are understandably concerned that they will be waiting even longer for the replacement work to start and complete.

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“NHS Lothian has spent more than £1.3 million to maintain he current Eye Pavilion since the building was deemed no longer fit for purpose back in 2014.

“I have committed to hosting a roundtable event in the parliament, alongside campaigners, to bring all the key stakeholders together and politicians to try and prevent any delay and make sure that patients are the heart of the design.”

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And Sylvia Paton, chair of the Keep Edinburgh Eye Pavilion (KEEP) campaign group, formed by blind and partially-sighted past and current patients, stressed the need for quick progress on the new hospital.

She said: "The Eye Pavilion is a lifeline service to local people like me. While we welcome the commitment from the Scottish Government and NHS Lothian to replace the Eye Pavilion we are disappointed and very concerned that little progress has been made.

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“The need for the new hospital is a matter of urgency, given that the money being spent on the existing building which has been unfit for purpose now for eight years already.

“KEEP are grateful to Sarah Boyack for listening to our concerns and look forward to taking part in the roundtable which she intends to host in the coming weeks.

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“It is important that patients are kept informed and involved during the design and construction process.”

NHS Lothian said as things stood, it was envisaged the full business case for the hospital would be submitted in late 2024, with operational status achieved in mid-2027, but these dates remained subject to change based on a variety of factors. Negotiations were continuing with Scottish Enterprise to acquire the site, but it was already reserved for the hospital and the negotiations were not causing any delay.

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