Nicola Sturgeon's pledge to replace Edinburgh's Eye Pavilion welcomed by campaigners, but they don't want to wait ten years
Campaigners have welcomed Nicola Sturgeon’s pledge in the Scottish Parliament to replace Edinburgh’s Eye Pavilion, but are now pressing the First Minister for an early start on the project.
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Ms Sturgeon promised during the election campaign that a re-elected SNP government would fund a replacement for the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion, despite ministers telling NHS Lothian in December they would not finance the new eye hospital planned for Little France which they had previously approved in principle.
And in a statement on Scottish Government priorities at Holyrood on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon said: “Over the next decade, we will invest £10 billion in the NHS estate to support the renewal and replacement of health facilities across the country, including the Edinburgh Eye Pavilion here in our capital city."
Sylvia Paton, of campaign group Keep Edinburgh Eye Pavilion (KEEP), said she was pleased to hear the pledge. But she said: “I hope we don’t have to wait ten years before it gets started. I hope we can get a commitment to get it going sooner rather than later. The current Eye Pavilion was declared unfit for purpose in 2015 and they gave the go-ahead in principle for the replacement in 2018 so I hope they can take it back to that point and get going.”
Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs also welcomed the pledge.
“I’m pleased the cross-party campaign for a replacement Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion has caused the First Minister to U-turn and commit to funding for a new eye hospital.
“What we need to see now is a timetable for the delivery of a new hospital, so that patients in Lothian can get the best possible eye care.
“I hope we will see shovels in the ground to build the new hospital in the next 100 days.
“As with everything with this SNP government the devil is always in the detail. That’s why I have written to the new Health Secretary to request an urgent cross-party meeting to seek clarity on the funding and delivery of the new eye hospital.”
Edinburgh Southern Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said it was “hugely encouraging” to hear the First Minister reaffirm her commitment on the Eye Pavilion in parliament.
"It’s the first time she has done that. I look forward to constructive engagement to ensure this project progresses without any further delays and in full.”
And Edinburgh Western Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “This is a huge victory, not just for the cross-party MSPs who worked to save the Eye Pavilion, but also for everyone across Edinburgh and the Lothians who fought to see the promise of a replacement facility in the Capital made real.
"The First Minister’s announcement is welcome, but it should have come much sooner. Even after securing the protection of specialist eye services, the government was attempting to railroad a more casual set-up, with different treatments and services dispersed across Lothian.
“I know from both constituency correspondence, and conversations on the doorsteps throughout the election campaign that this was a major issue for local communities. The thought of losing the Eye Pavilion was genuinely upsetting for people, especially those who are affected by full or partial sight loss.
“I’m delighted Edinburgh no longer risks being the only capital city in Europe without a dedicated eye care centre.”