Outcry over plans to disperse eyecare treatment across Lothian after Scottish Government refusal to fund new eye hospital for Edinburgh

The Princess Alexandria NHS Eye Pavilion on Chalmers Street has been deemed unfit for purposeThe Princess Alexandria NHS Eye Pavilion on Chalmers Street has been deemed unfit for purpose
The Princess Alexandria NHS Eye Pavilion on Chalmers Street has been deemed unfit for purpose
Plans to disperse eyecare treatment across Lothian following the Scottish Government’s refusal to fund a new specialist eye hospital in the Capital have provoked a public outcry.

The Evening News revealed yesterday that NHS Lothian had been told to look at locating some ophthalmology services at a new elective care centre being built next to St John’s Hospital in Livingston.

It comes after the government said it would not fund a replacement for Edinburgh’s Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion despite an agreement two years ago.

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Reacting on social media, one reader said: “This is a disgrace. My partner spent time in the pavilion with a parasite in her eye and if it wasn’t for the fantastic doctors snd nurses she would have lost her sight. Places like this must be protected.”

Another posted: “Had an accident years ago rushed straight there and an emergency operation and stayed for a week and another operation to save my sight... I thought Edinburgh was a world leader in medicine – this place has to be saved.”

The current eye pavilion in Chalmers Street, opened in 1969, was deemed unfit for purpose in 2015. An initial agreement for a new hospital was approved by NHS Scotland in February 2018. But last month the government told NHS Lothian said it could not fund the £45 million project now or in the foreseeable future.

In a letter to Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said the government had suggested “a more distributed rather than centralised model of care”. And she added: “Further consideration needs to be given by NHS Lothian to the role of the new Elective Care Centre in Livingston in supporting eye services.”

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However, transferring services to West Lothian would mean a dramatic increase in journey timess for patients from the Capital.

Wilma Ferguson tweeted: “Huge mistake, this needs to be funded they can’t keep putting everything out of the city.”

Kirsty Smith posted: “Saddened to hear this. My daughter got fantastic treatment there a few years back. My mum took her to a number of her appointments as I was working. If the appointments had been in Livingston my mum could not have taken her.”

And Charlotte Heaney said: “Not impressed. I relied on this hospital to check my vision up until the age of 11. A much longer way to go is not great if you have a sore eye.”

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Another reader said: “It does make sense to decentralise these services BUT there needs to be a localised unit in Edinburgh. The practicalities of attending St Johns either for or following treatment, when you are told not to drive, can't be ignored.”

Mr Briggs, who plans to stage a debate on the issue at Holyrood, said: “There are growing concerns at the U-turn on the commitment to fund a replacement eye pavilion and the potential negative impact any move to scatter services across Lothian would have on vulnerable patients with eye conditions.

“I have been contacted by a patients who would find it totally unacceptable to be forced to travel around the NHS Lothian estate to access ophthalmology services and I have requested an urgent meeting with Jeane Freeman.”

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Eyecare treatment could be moved to Livingston after Scottish Government says it...

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