HEALTH bosses have been urged to speed up plans for a replacement cancer treatment centre at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital.
Lothian MSP and Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs said the current centre was past its sell-by date and called for a clear timetable for a new one.
Last year the Evening News revealed that £26m was needed to keep the current centre up to standard and the earliest possible date for a replacement, costed at £300m, was 2025.
NHS Lothian has been allocated an extra £15m for fabric maintenance in the meantime.
When Health Secretary Shona Robison appeared at Holyrood’s health committee this week, Mr Briggs asked her about a new cancer centre in view of the planned £70m cut in the NHS capital budget.
But Ms Robison said the capital budget fluctuated from year to year and last year had seen several big projects completed.
Christine McLaughlin, director of health finance for the Scottish Government, told the committee a new cancer centre based in Lothian to serve south-east Scotland was among some large investments which might be coming up “over the next five to ten years”.
Mr Briggs said: “It is clear that we need to see progress to bring forward the development of a replacement cancer centre at the Western.
“The current building is not fit for purpose. It’s quite clear it’s beyond its life expectancy. A lot of people love it because of the work it does, but it’s not the modern space patients are entitled to expect. We need to see a long-term replacement and work commence to make this a reality.
“With the number of cases of cancer expected to continue rising it is vital that SNP ministers start work to put a timetable in place to ensure that work and a business case for a replacement centre can progress as soon as possible.”
NHS Lothian finance director Susan Goldsmith said: “We are planning a world-leading cancer centre in NHS Lothian and work is ongoing. But while that major project is under way we have taken the interim step of creating plans to enhance the current accommodation.
“This will allow our clinicians to continue to provide expert care for our patients in the same building until we are able to move into our new facility.
“We are absolutely clear that this is an interim solution and our ambition remains to build a new leading cancer centre.”
A government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government recognises the importance of providing high-quality cancer services at the Edinburgh Cancer Centre and are supportive of NHS Lothian’s plans to develop a business case.
“A decision on the funding will be made following review of the business case and it would not be appropriate to make any decision before that review is complete. However, we have agreed to support the necessary investment in the current building which will improve current service provision while the business case is being developed.”