Budget (NHS Lothian Eye Care Services)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 4th March 2021.

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Photo of Miles Briggs Miles Briggs Conservative

1. To ask the Scottish Government whether the finance secretary will include funding for a replacement Princess Alexandra eye pavilion in its budget for 2021-22. (S5O-05081)

Photo of Kate Forbes Kate Forbes Scottish National Party

We have asked NHS Lothian to carry out a review of its eye care services as a whole and to reconsider how those should be delivered. The most recent estimated cost of the project, from 2019, was £83 million, not £45 million. As with all budget considerations, we have set out alongside that the health portfolio’s priorities for the next five years, as part of the capital spending review on 4 February.

Photo of Miles Briggs Miles Briggs Conservative

Will the cabinet secretary explain why Scottish National Party ministers have had to tell NHS Lothian that the Government is not in a position to fund a new hospital now or in the foreseeable future? What has gone wrong in the finances of the Scottish Government and our national health service that has meant that the project, which had been scoped and agreed to by the NHS and the Scottish Government— a contract had been awarded to Graham Construction to build the new hospital—has now been scrapped? At this very late stage, will the cabinet secretary look into the matter and restore funding for the eye hospital?

Photo of Kate Forbes Kate Forbes Scottish National Party

I am intrigued by Miles Briggs’s very recent interest in the Scottish Government’s budget, considering that he voted against it at stage 1. At no point in the budget negotiations did the Scottish Conservatives ask me to include funding for the Princess Alexandra eye pavilion.

We recognise that the eye pavilion requires investment. It is important that we make the most of our assets, which is why the Scottish Government is committed to doubling our annual maintenance spend over the next five years. The commitment sits alongside our capital spending review, which will see funding in health assets, including the Baird family hospital and Anchor centre in Aberdeen, the elective centre programme and the construction of a new health and social care centre in Parkhead in Glasgow. We will continue our discussions with NHS Lothian to ensure that healthcare is provided in the right places.

Photo of Miles Briggs Miles Briggs Conservative

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. The cabinet secretary will be aware that I wrote to her asking for this matter to be included in the budget, so what she said to the Parliament is not accurate. I would appreciate an apology for that.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

That is a point of information, rather than a point of order. If the cabinet secretary wishes to respond to it, she may.

Photo of Kate Forbes Kate Forbes Scottish National Party

I was quite clear that the Conservative Party spokesperson for negotiations on the budget, Murdo Fraser, has not raised the matter in budget negotiations to date.

Photo of Neil Findlay Neil Findlay Labour

Irrespective of whether it has been raised in budget negotiations, the project was well advanced and lots of money had been spent on planning, which is more money poured down the drain. The cabinet secretary knows that the Government is quite adept at pouring money down the drain.

Will the cabinet secretary finally admit to patients in Lothian that the project has been cancelled because of a political decision by the Government?

Photo of Kate Forbes Kate Forbes Scottish National Party

With regard to the facility, that is the only politics that we have heard in the past five minutes.

As I said in my first answer, we have not given final approval for the construction of a new eye hospital in Edinburgh, which is why funding has not been confirmed.

We have asked NHS Lothian to carry out a review of its eye care services as a whole and to reconsider how they should be delivered. That remains our position. We have asked NHS Lothian to carry out the review, which includes redesigning pathways to enable patients to access care closer to home, and we await recommendations and proposals. We will work with the board to explore how it can more efficiently meet the demand for eye care in Lothian.