'Don’t just hope for a new eye hospital, vote for one' - Miles Briggs
In just 34 days time voters across Scotland will have the opportunity to elect the next Scottish parliament.
The decision by SNP Ministers not to fund a new eye hospital, to replace the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion, has angered patients across Edinburgh and the east of Scotland.
Since SNP ministers took the decision to withdraw the £45million needed by NHS Lothian to build a new eye hospital, I have worked hard to build a cross party campaign to demand a rethink on the issue.
I very much welcome the cross-party campaign which has been brought together to fight for a new hospital. The fact that Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green MSPs have all come together to condemn the decision and demand funding for a replacement hospital is a clear example of the level of support around this issue.
It was also welcome to see all councillors on City of Edinburgh Council coming together to demand a new eye hospital for the Capital.
In stark contrast, SNP MSPs and candidates seeking your vote in May haven’t lifted a finger. They have shown a total lack commitment to our NHS and eye care services in Edinburgh and the East of Scotland.
It is clear that the SNP increasingly think it can take voters in Edinburgh and the east of Scotland for granted. Perhaps that’s the reason why over the last 14 years NHS Lothian has become the lowest funded NHS board in Scotland under the SNP.
The fact is, it increasingly looks like the decision to withdraw funding for a new hospital has been taken by SNP minsters not on clinical grounds, but financial grounds.
Perhaps the SNPs mismanagement of our NHS finances has resulted in the undeveloped and increasingly unworkable plan to simply disperse eye services – something NHS specialist are warning is simply not a credible option.
As more and more people are vaccinated for Covid-19, the focus has to be on recovery and NHS Lothian will have one of the biggest challenge’s on their hands out of all 14 Scottish health boards.
Even before Covid-19, patients in Lothian were waiting exceptionally long times for ophthalmology treatments. A new Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion was a central part of NHS Lothian’s recovery plan and it has been taken away from them, when they need it most.
So this election is an opportunity to make our voices heard and to demand better for our community and for the Capital. If we do not secure a replacement eye hospital, then I believe it will not only take eye health services for patients in the east of Scotland backwards, but it will shamefully leave Edinburgh as the only major city in the UK without a specialist eye hospital.
The campaign for a new eye hospital for Edinburgh is fast becoming the number one issue for Lothian voters at this election.
So as we head towards the election, Evening News readers should pause and consider this - if the SNP will not commit to support and fund a new replacement eye hospital for Edinburgh and the east of Scotland, then why should you give them your support?
The message to voters could not be more clear. Don’t just hope for a new eye hospital – vote for one.