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Scrapping eye hospital a second time highlights SNP ‘contempt’ for patients

The Scottish Conservatives say reports that plans for a new eye hospital in Edinburgh have been scrapped for a second time demonstrate the SNP’s “contempt” for patients.

Lothian MSP Miles Briggs has today submitted a Topical Question on the subject – which he also raised at First Minister’s Questions last week – in the wake of today’s Edinburgh Evening News front page.

He says mothballing the plans – which had already been shelved prior to the 2021 Scottish Parliament election – would have disastrous implications for patients across east and south-east Scotland.

It is the latest major NHS infrastructure project in Scotland to be put on hold due to a freeze on capital spending amid a £1.5billion black hole in the nation’s finances which the SNP has presided over.

When questioned about the need for a new eye hospital in the capital at FMQs on Thursday, Humza Yousaf said: “There is no doubting of course that the Eye Pavilion does need built. 

“We do need to replace the current infrastructure that is there. There is no doubting across any political party that that has to be done.”

Miles Briggs claimed those words were now no more than “a hollow platitude”.

Scottish Conservative Party MSP for Lothian region Miles Briggs said: “It beggars belief that SNP-Green Ministers have for a second time in three years scrapped plans to deliver a replacement Edinburgh eye hospital.

“It shows contempt for patients across Lothian and south-east Scotland and renders Humza Yousaf’s comment on the subject at FMQs last week a hollow platitude.

“This decision will have potentially life-changing implications for vulnerable patients who experience sight loss – and SNP and Green MSPs and MPs will pay a heavy price for standing by as vital services are cut, closed and centralised in Glasgow.

“But this goes far wider than eye care in Edinburgh. Vital NHS building projects are being mothballed up and down Scotland – and the usual SNP excuses won’t wash.

“The freeze on essential NHS infrastructure upgrades stems directly from SNP financial mismanagement.

“Despite receiving record block grants from the UK Government, stagnant growth and waste under the Nationalists has led to a huge black hole in Scotland’s budget which they are now desperately trying to fill.”

Notes

 

Miles Briggs Topical Question submitted today reads: To ask the Scottish Government when it will update the Parliament on plans for a new eye hospital for Edinburgh and the south-east of Scotland.

 

The Scottish Government are halting spending on all NHS capital projects for at least two years. The Scottish Government has advised NHS boards to immediately stop any project development spend ‘as the Scottish Government does not anticipate starting construction of any new capital projects over the next two years at least’. (Daily Business Group, 16 January 2024, link).

The Scottish Government’s NHS capital spending halt has stopped the replacement of the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion. The Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion is a specialist care centre for conditions affecting the eye and eyesight. The current Eye Pavilion, which has been described as ‘not fit for purpose’, was planned to be replaced with a new facility. The Scottish Government agreed the business case for the new pavilion in 2021 whilst Humza Yousaf was Health Secretary. (NHS Lothian, Accessed 29 January 2024, link; Daily Business Group, 16 January 2024, link; Edinburgh Evening News, 20 December 2023, link; Scottish Government News, 10 September 2021, link).

Major concerns have been raised about the current poor state of the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion. On 7 November 2023, two of Scotland’s oldest sight loss charities warned that people’s eye health was being put at risk due to the poor facilities at the Eye Pavilion. The Scottish Government declared the building unfit for use in 2014. MSPs from four political parties co-signed a letter calling on Michael Matheson to set out a clear timetable for a new eye hospital. (North Edinburgh News, 11 December 2023, link; Edinburgh Evening News, 7 November 2023, link).