Urgent need for clarity over when Edinburgh's new eye hospital will be built, says MSP

A clear timetable for Edinburgh’s promised new eye hospital is needed urgently, the Scottish Parliament has been told.

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 12:30 pm

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Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs praised patients, sight loss charity RNIB and the Evening News campaign as crucial in highlighting the importance of a replacement for the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion.

But he appealed to ministers for clarity on when the new hospital would be built and asked them to help fund maintenance of the current no longer fit-for-purpose premises in the meantime. The current projection suggests the new hospital will not open until 2026.

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The current Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion is not fit for purpose Picture: Greg Macvean

Speaking in a members debate at Holyrood for National Eye Health Week., Mr Briggs said: “At the end of last year, SNP ministers announced that they were withdrawing funding for a replacement Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion.

“Throughout this year, I have been campaigning for funding to be restored and for a new replacement Eye Hospital to be built. The need for of a new Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion is absolutely essential.

“Services users, alongside the RNIB and an Edinburgh Evening News campaign, were all crucial in highlighting the importance of a replacement hospital.

“This campaign was successful and ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections in May, SNP ministers made a U-turn on their decision and agreed to fund a new eye hospital.

“A new Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion will be vital to the long-term eye health care of people in Edinburgh and the East of Scotland. What we now need is detail on a timetable for the new Hospital to be built.”

He said from what ministers had said it was unlikely the new hospital would be built in the next few years. But he told MSPs: “There is an urgent need for clarity on when this key health infrastructure project will proceed.”

And he asked: “Will SNP ministers provide financial support to NHS Lothian, specifically for the maintenance of the current Eye Pavilion, which is no longer fit for purpose and has significant challenges including old lifts which are often out of use?”

Also speaking in the debate, Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack stressed the importance of eye health, whether at local level or access to emergency services.

“Over the last year it has really been brought to the forefront by firstly the cancellation of the new Eye Pavilion and then the very welcome U-turn of a commitment that we will get that Eye Pavilion.

“The announcement really lifted people’s spirits. It took a lot of campaigning to get there, it came up at a lot of hustings before the election.

"The other thing that really struck me was the series of articles by the Evening News which told about people’s real life experiences, how important all of our eye services are, whether it’s the community level or going to the Eye Pavilion, but also the emergency experience people had, where literally their eyes were saved in a matter of minutes and the access to that clinical expertise and excellence. I know from personal experience the very long hours staff do, the 24-hour service even through the pandemic has been fantastic, and we need to thank those staff.

“Let’s hope we get the rapid progress on the new eye hospital. A lot of work has been done by NHS Lothian already on the project.”

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