Edinburgh eye hospital: Lothian MSPs have 'constructive' meeting with new Health Secretary

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Lothian MSPs say they have had a "constructive" meeting with Health Secretary Neil Gray over Edinburgh's promised new eye hospital.

Tory MSP Miles Briggs, Labour's Sarah Boyack and Edinburgh Northern and Leith SNP MSP Ben Macpherson, met Mr Gray on Thursday morning. It was the first time a cross-party group had held talks on the much-delayed project with the new Health Secretary, who took over the role just seven weeks ago from Michael Matheson after he quit over an £11,000 data roaming bill.

There are concerns the current Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion could become unusable before a new hospital can be built.  Picture: Greg Macvean. There are concerns the current Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion could become unusable before a new hospital can be built.  Picture: Greg Macvean.
There are concerns the current Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion could become unusable before a new hospital can be built. Picture: Greg Macvean. | JP License

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Scottish Government first agreed to a new eye hospital in 2018 as a replacement for the existing Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion which was declared not fit for purpose in 2014. But ministers then cancelled the project in December 2020 before the then First Minister Nicola Sturgeon did a U-turn during the 2021 Holyrood election campaign and said the hospital would go ahead after all.

But in December, the government ordered a two-year freeze on all new major NHS capital projects which meant all work on the new eye hospital was halted. Lothian MSPs have voiced fears that the current Eye Pavilion could become unusable before a replacement can be built.

Mr Briggs said despite the two-year freeze Mr Gray had hinted the government was looking for potential additional funding options to take forward some projects before the freeze expires.

Mr Briggs said: "I was pleased to be able to secure the cross-party meeting with Neil Gray and explain the level of concern and anger of residents across Lothian over the decision by SNP-Green Ministers to pause the project to build a new Edinburgh eye hospital.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It is essential that we see urgent progress to take forward the project at the earliest opportunity and for NHS Lothian to receive our fair share of funding for capital projects. I welcome the constructive discussions the Health Secretary has agreed to take forward on potential routes to fund the new Edinburgh eye hospital and will continue to make the case for this vital health infrastructure investment."

He said it was clear that NHS Lothian faced huge pressures with major population growth while receiving the lowest level of funding of any health board per head of population.

Ms Boyack said she was glad she and her cross-party colleagues had been able to discuss the eye hospital with the new Health Secretary. “It was a constructive conversation with the Cabinet Secretary, in stark contrast to his predecessor," she said.

“The current capital spending freeze is unsustainable, and its consequences are already being felt by eye hospital patients. I was glad to be able to make the case to Neil Gray about the worries for patients and NHS staff if the new Eye Hospital does not get the go head in the near future given it was designated not fit for purpose a decade ago.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Although we got no clarity on the timeline for the new Eye Pavilion, I hope the Scottish Government will continue to work constructively with Edinburgh MSPs to meet the infrastructure challenges the City and the wider Lothian region are facing."

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.