Nicola Sturgeon says Scottish Government committed to state-of-art eyecare services for Edinburgh

Nicola Sturgeon has said her government is committed to "fit-for-purpose, state-of-the-art" eyecare services for Edinburgh despite its refusal to fund the planned new eye hospital.
Nicola Sturgeon was speaking at First Minister's Questions    Photo: Fraser Bremner - Getty ImagesNicola Sturgeon was speaking at First Minister's Questions    Photo: Fraser Bremner - Getty Images
Nicola Sturgeon was speaking at First Minister's Questions Photo: Fraser Bremner - Getty Images

At First Minister's Questions, she was challenged by Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs over the decision to pull the plug on a replacement for the Capital's

Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion and the idea that services are dispersed across the region, including to a new elective care centre in Livingston.

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Quoting comments by Dr Hector Chawla, former director of the Eye Pavilion, in the Evening News earlier this week, Mr Briggs said:

"Dr Chawla said the Scottish Government's withdrawal of support for a proposed replacement appeared to be driven by savings of money rather than concept of care for eye patients in Edinburgh."

He said Dr Chawla had also warned that expecting patients to travel longer distances for treatment would risk more people losing their sight.

Mr Briggs asked: "Does the First Minister believe it would be acceptable for Scotland's capital to lose specialist eye services and for Edinburgh to become one of only a few cities in the UK to not have an eye hospital? Will she think again?"Ms Sturgeon replied: "This is a really important issue - I have somebody within my own family who is dependent on - and has been for a long time - eye services in Edinburgh. I know how important these services are.

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"It is not the case the Scottish Government has withdrawn support. We've asked NSH Lothian to look again at the proposal and we will continue to discuss it with NHS Lothian how we can move forward on a sensible basis.

"Of course it's important that Edinburgh has fit for purpose, state of the art services for people who need them in terms of eyecare and that's what we're committed to working with NHS Lothian to ensure."

Afterwards Mr Briggs said the First Minister did not seem to know the Scottish Government had withdrawn money for the hospital.

"She has obviously had a lot on her plate this week, but at the same time they don't seem to be acknowledging the genuine cross-party concerns which are being raised or addressing the points we're putting to them.

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"It's increasingly frustrating for us who are trying to find out exactly what's planned, why the money is being taken away and why a new hospital was needed a few months ago and now we're not getting one.

“If we don’t see a U-turn before the election I think this will be a key election issue and people will have to lay out why they will not fund what we need.”

He said it was all very well Ms Sturgeon saying Edinburgh would have state-of-the-art eyecare, but why had the government scrapped the funding for a replacement hospital?

“We currently have state-of-the-art people but they're not working in a state-of-the-art building. so it needs replaced.

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“Everything which currently takes place in the much-loved, much-valued, world-renowned Eye Pavilion can’t be replicated without them funding a proper replacement.”

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Edinburgh's Eye Pavilion: Former director Hector Chawla spells out why Scottish ...

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