Edinburgh's Eye Pavilion: Why I won't believe the Scottish government is going to replace it until the first brick is laid – John McLellan

Is there going to be a new Princes Alexandra Eye Pavilion in Edinburgh or not?

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 4:45 pm
Will Edinburgh get a replacement for the Princess Alexandria NHS Eye Pavilion? John McLellan has his doubts (Picture: Greg Macvean)

Judging by the tricksiness with which the Scottish government regards agreements with opposition parties, nothing can be believed until the first brick is laid.

All SNP Finance Secretary Kate Forbes agreed after this week’s budget discussions with other parties was to “protect specialised eye services for the city and the wider region” and NHS Lothian would review the plans for the Eye Pavilion’s future.

But in going along with a plan to scatter specialist eye treatment across the region, NHS Lothian would say that was what it was doing, just not in one place. The best that can be said about the outcome of recent discussions is that the current crumbling facility might be patched up so it can stumble on.

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Why does it remain so hard for the Scottish government to commit to investing the £45m originally promised to build a new hospital at Little France, boosting an internationally recognised facility, complementing the Bioquarter and freeing an important city centre plot for development?

Ms Forbes is awash with Westminster cash and, in normal years, her administration struggles to spend it all.

However, it is believed that some senior Scottish government clinical advisers are said to be less than committed to the principle of retaining a centre of excellence for eye care here, so NHS Lothian can still be leaned on to make the required recommendation.

To borrow a phrase, the Scottish government needs watching like a hawk.

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny/Duddingston

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