Edinburgh's promised new eye hospital must be included in new spending package, say Lothian MSPs

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

Edinburgh’s long-delayed new eye hospital must be included in a package of new projects due to be given the go-ahead later this year, Lothian MSPs from across the political spectrum have said.

The replacement for the existing Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion, which was declared not fit for purpose a decade ago, is currently on hold because of a freeze on major capital spending projects imposed by the Scottish Government in December last year

The current Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion was declared not fit for purpose in 2014.The current Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion was declared not fit for purpose in 2014.
The current Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion was declared not fit for purpose in 2014. | TSPL

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But the government now plans to bring forward a revised infrastructure investment plan later in the year, with fewer projects able to be financed.

Lothian MSPs, including Conservative Miles Briggs and Labour’s Sarah Boyack, met Health Secretary Neil Gray earlier this week, along with with patients’ representatives to discuss the promised eye hospital.

Mr Briggs said the new hospital should be seen as a strategic health investment for Edinburgh and the whole South East Scotland area. He said: “We need to make sure it is included in options now being considered by Ministers when they take decisions on the revised infrastructure investment plan. It is clear that this might be the last opportunity to get the green light to progress a new Eye Hospital in this parliament.”

Sylvia Paton, of patient campaign group Keep Edinburgh Eye Pavilion (KEEP), said the meeting with Mr Gray had been positive up to a a point. “He very much agreed we do need a new eye hospital. However, it was the same old, same old about how funding would be difficult and there were no guarantees.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Also attending the meeting were Edinburgh Southern Labour MSP Daniel Johnson, Edinburgh Northern & Leith SNP MSP Ben Macpherson, Edinburgh Pentlands SNP MSP Gordon Macdonald and Lothian Tory MSP Sue Webber.

Mr Briggs said the Health Secretary had acknowledged the problems with the existing hospital building. “He was quite open in saying he understands the current hospital is not fit for purpose and needs replaced. There was no argument saying a new hospital isn't needed, it's how it can be delivered.”

But he said the latest review of projects was not expected to produce any results until September at the earliest.

Ms Boyack said: “It’s critical that the revised infrastructure plan includes the Eye Pavillion and that NHS Lothian are given the green light to restart the project.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The longer this project is on the waiting list, the more expensive it will be, so we urgently need the Scottish Government to give it the go-ahead. We can’t continue with the SNP Government’s flip flopping and delays with this vital project.”

The government first agreed to a replacement for the Eye Pavilion in 2018, but then cancelled it, sparking a public outcry. The then First Minister Nicola Sturgeon did a U-turn during the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, saying the hospital would go ahead after all. But the project’s timetable fell behind before it even started and then it was hit by the spending freeze.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said the Health Secretary had welcomed the opportunity for continued engagement with local representatives over the Eye Pavilion.

She continued: “The Scottish Government is working with all health boards to develop whole-system infrastructure plans - in the context of a very challenging financial position.  This is a positive and practical approach which will support continued safe operation of existing facilities and inform longer term investment priorities.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“As set out in the Scottish Government budget for 2024/25 the capital funding position is extremely challenging. The UK Government did not inflation-proof its capital budget which has resulted in nearly a 8.7 per cent real-terms cut in the Scottish Government’s capital funding.

“As a result the pipeline of capital projects across Scottish Government are being reviewed and a revised infrastructure investment plan will be published later this year. All due consideration will be given to what projects can be included within that revised plan to ensure it is affordable and deliverable, while providing the best value for money.”

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.