Plea to Nicola Sturgeon after Scottish Government withdraws funding for Edinburgh's new eye hospital

Nicola Sturgeon was today urged to intervene personally after the Scottish Government said it was withdrawing funding for a £45 million new eye hospital for Lothian.

Thursday, 17th December 2020, 1:17 pm
The current Princes Alexandra Eye Pavilion in Chalmers Street

NHS Lothian revealed yesterday it had been informed that despite an agreement in 2018, the government was not in a position to fund a replacement for Edinburgh’s Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion now or in the foreseeable future.

At First Minister’s Questions, Lothian Conservative MSP Miles Briggs said: “Plans for a replacement for the 50 year-old Eye Pavilion were at an advanced stage and contracts were awarded some two years ago. Will the First Minister personally intervene today and restore this vital funding for our NHS?”

Ms Sturgeon said she was not sure the situation was quite as Mr Briggs had described. But she said she would look into it further and write to him.

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She added: “As is the case for governments across the UK, funding is constrained, we have to make difficult choices about funding but making sure we have fit-for-purpose, state-of-the art health facilities in every part of the country is a priority.”

The new hospital was planned to be located close to the Royal Infirmary at Little France, replacing the existing pavilion in Chalmers Street, which was opened in 1969. The current building was deemed unfit for purpose several years ago.

In an email to key groups yesterday, NHS Lothian opthalmology programme manager Kathleen Imrie said in 2018 the health board had been invited by the Scottish Government to prepare an outline business case, hew hospital design plans were developed and the business case was submitted in May 2019.

“We have now received the formal response from the Scottish Government’s which is that unfortunately, they are not in a position to fund a new Eye Hospital now or in the foreseeable future.

“I am sure you will share our disappointment at this news, especially given the enthusiasm and commitment shown by yourselves as service users, carers, and partner organisations and staff in progressing the design in support of the business case.

“Despite this setback, delivery of safe, effective and efficient eye care, remains a key priority for NHS Lothian. Alternative accommodation options will be looked at, including a review of feasible modern service models. The input from service users and the significant multi-professional redesign work undertaken to date will act as a solid foundation for this.

“After the festive period we will re-group to agree how we now move forward.”

Mr Briggs said it was “totally unacceptable” that the government had refused funding for the re-provision of the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion.

“NHS Lothian have made it clear to SNP ministers that a new eye hospital is urgently needed in Lothian.

“SNP ministers have received record funding from the UK government for our health service, which they have mismanaged and not used on vital services such as a new Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion hospital.

“For too long SNP ministers have underfunded NHS Lothian and it is now clear that patients are paying the price.”

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