Rachael Hamilton MSP and John Lamont MP have called on the SNP Government to include a new eye hospital in the new Scottish budget.
They join calls from Scottish Conservative Lothians’ MSP Miles Briggs, who has encouraged people in the region to sign a petition calling for a new hospital to be put back on the table.
The current Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion on Chalmers Street in Edinburgh is deemed not suitable for purpose.
The Scottish Government signed up for a new eye hospital at Little France in an initial agreement in 2018. Yet, in December 2020, the Scottish Government said it was not in a financial position to fund a replacement hospital.
The Scottish Government said new technology and medical advances mean that virtual clinics and community optometrists were a preferred option instead of a replacement hospital. Scottish ministers suggested services could be dispersed across the region, for example, at a new elective care centre to be built in Livingston.
Several constituents, who have attended the Eye Pavilion in the past for surgery have highlighted concerns to Rachael and John. There are also concerns about what will happen to emergency treatment outside the Borders’ Eye Centre opening times.
Both Mrs Hamilton and Mr Lamont believe that a replacement for the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion is vital and said that a regionalised approach based on more virtual care would have unwelcomed implications for Borders’ patients.
Rachael Hamilton MSP said:
“Since NHS Lothian announced that the SNP Government had withdrawn funding for a replacement Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion, Borders constituents who use this service have contacted me concerned about the future.
“A new hospital is essential for ensuring high quality eye care can continue in Edinburgh and the Borders. I believe it would wrong if this service was closed completely, given the high level of expertise offered.
“The Scottish Conservatives are calling for funding to build a new hospital in the upcoming Scottish budget.
“A new eye hospital would bring tremendous benefits, and would help improve waiting times for ophthalmic operations and services.
“As we start to lift restrictions in the coming weeks and months, we will need extra capacity to deal with a backlog of cancellations, so closing any NHS services at this time would be damaging”.
John Lamont MP said:
“A number of constituents who have contacted me and are concerned about where they would receive treatment in the future.
“Having a specialist hospital serving the Borders is really important for those who live with eye conditions.
“It is important that we receive some clarity from the Scottish Government about how services provided to the Borders patients in the Eye Pavilion will be provided in the future when it closes.
“People want to see specialist services being delivered closer to home, rather than further away. This is especially true when it comes to emergencies.”