Edinburgh's new eye hospital plans could move to next stage ‘within weeks’
A go-ahead to develop full plans for a new eye hospital in Edinburgh could be given within weeks, NHS Lothian board members have been told.
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The Evening News revealed on Monday that the government had asked the health board to update and resubmit its outline business case (OBC) for the new hospital, six months after ministers said they would not fund the project.
Now, in a report to Tuesday's board meeting, NHS Lothian deputy chief executive Jim Crombie says feedback suggests the review by external consultants which backed the case for a new hospital and the board's indication it wanted to proceed with the plans have been "well received" in the government.
And he added: "We’ve been advised that we are likely to receive a formal response to our OBC in the coming weeks."
Once the outline business case is approved, the next stage is to develop and present a full business case with comprehensive details of the project and precise costings.
Edinburgh Western MSP and Lib Dem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “These are all wonderful signs that the hard work of campaigners who fought tirelessly to see the promised hospital made real will have paid off.
“Liberal Democrats made a new Eye Pavilion a red-line issue in return for supporting the government’s budget before the election and I’m gratified to see them appear to make good on that commitment.”
And Edinburgh Southern Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said: “It is welcome news that the Scottish Government has requested the health board prepare the solution which the health board wanted, clinicians wanted and eyecare experts said was the best option.
"It is just a shame that we have had these many months of doubt just to seemingly arrive where we started from – that is, the health board submitting a plan for a replacement for the Eye Pavilion.
"We now need the Scottish Government to get on with confirming that funds are in place and agreeing with Lothian health board a schedule for replacing this much-needed eye facility for the people of Edinburgh and beyond.”
Ministers told NHS Lothian in December they could not fund a new eye hospital “now or in the foreseeable future” but after a public outcry First Minister Nicola Sturgeon pledged during the election they would find money after all.