Patients will suffer if Edinburgh's Eye Pavilion is not replaced - Readers' Letters

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has declared that plans to fund a replacement for Edinburgh's Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion will now not go ahead. Instead, the service is to be scattered over different regions (Scotsman, 1 January).

The Scottish Government has said it will not fund a replacement for the Princes Alexandra Eye Pavilion in Edinburgh.
The Scottish Government has said it will not fund a replacement for the Princes Alexandra Eye Pavilion in Edinburgh.

Such a notion was last proposed by Lothian Health Board in the nineties then withdrawn after public outrage when the Board recognised the damage beyond measure that would follow the destruction of a world-class unit.

Such damage reveals itself piecemeal over time. The first casualty is the essential sharing of clinical observation amongst staff and inevitably the second casualty is the patient.

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A single hospital unit develops its unique sense of shared experience which in turn creates an atmosphere where patients can have trust in what is going to happen to them.

Then instead of learning from each other, surgeons have to travel. Navigating a busy motorway between hospitals must be the most inefficient use of staff time and it is, for sure, the very worst preparation for a complicated surgical list.

And complicated it would be, because serious surgical problems are referred from all over Fife, the Borders and West Lothian to this renowned teaching centre in Scotland's capital city.

To disseminate it in splinters back to West Lothian would be to destroy at a stroke an ethos, structure and reputation built up and respected over decades. This scheme, an attempt to save money quite clearly being spent elsewhere, would have one definite result: a poorer quality of care for all those terrified of blindness.

Ms Freeman should think again.

Hector Bryson Chawla OBE FRCS

Morningside Drive, Edinburgh

Lacking vision

As a retired ward sister at the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion I was very saddened to read of the refusal by the Scottish Government to fund the replacement for this vital and essential service. Instead it seems that the plan is to dismantle the "all under one rood, joined-up service" and disperse it to different locations around Lothian.

Sight impaired vulnerable people, many of them elderly, will be negatively impacted as will the efficiency of the service.

In 1998 a very well supported campaign saved it from a similar fate. History repeats itself. Let’s hope that on this occasion the Government will see sense and that the outcome of this situation is positive.

Anne Laing

Sylvan Place, Edinburgh

Repeat school year

With Scottish schools now closed until at least the end of January would it not be appropriate to consider a more comprehensive solution to ensure that children do get a normal education?

Most children could repeat this school year. The primary intake could be deferred where appropriate for a year to reduce an entry bulge in the next school year. Children who actually do achieve a good level of qualification at the end of the school year would not need to repeat the last year and the whole system would be flexible.

All affected would be consulted well in advance including pupils and parents. Hardship help might be provided by adjusting child allowance, extending free meals programs and giving discretionary grants as well as allowing suitably planned gap years for older pupils.

Occupying children and staff usefully until the end of this school year is a problem we are likely to have anyway. Resources (teachers) could be devoted in conjunction with the SQA (a normal practice) to develop online learning syllabuses with schoolchildren participating in the development and which could be sold to other countries.

This is not the first pandemic and it certainly will not be the last. Much of what is done this year to cope with these extraordinary circumstances will, at some time in the future, serve us well.

Ken Carew

Minden Crescent, Dumfries

Focused action

Nicola Sturgeon's latest rules (laws?) will have a detrimental effect on the physical and mental wellbeing of society, particularly the restriction that allows one person to meet only one other person from one other household outdoors. This will stop small walking groups and other small outdoor exercise groups from meeting. These groups do much for the physical and mental health of the nation.

From the beginning of the pandemic, I have believed that a curfew (from 8pm-6am) should have been introduced. In addition, while pubs, restaurants and cafes are not permitted to open/sell alcohol, it makes no sense to allow off-licence sales of alcohol. This simply encourages alcohol-fuelled gatherings in private homes; much more dangerous than visiting a well managed restaurant.

Until the Scottish Government (and the UK) plan their actions in a more focused way, the rate of infection will increase every time restrictions are eased and we will find ourselves in a perpetual loop of low and high rates of infection.

Norman G Scott

Mayshade Road, Loanhead

Stop sports

Whilst fully supporting our parliament’s increasing of Covid-19 restrictions, regretably yet again they are not strong enough. It's unfortunate our First Minister ignored the increasing numbers of new variants just prior to Christmas –quote "Scotland only has 17 cases" – and now after all the disruption and loss of life, we are all yet again paying the price.

As with the failure to stamp out the numerous outdoor and indoor gatherings in phase one of the pandemic, or address the growing case rates in the Central Belt in late-September, recent events even in the FMs own constituency surrounding the Old Firm derby demonstrate yet again there are numerous individuals who simply do not believe the restrictions apply to them.

There have also been numerous cases of Covid outbreaks in our professional sports teams across the sporting spectrum, and to close schools but allow “elite sports” to continue is just beyond belief. It's not just the players and staff who have continuously demonstrated their inability to abide by their own guidelines but now in winter televised coverage of elite sports will be streamed and watched by numerous gatherings of multi-household groups who will be breaching every element of the FACTS guidelines.

The new variants are more dangerous to all age groups and elements of our society. This is more serious than phase one. Lock down elite sports now.

Stuart Jackson

Binghill Crescent, Milltimber, Aberdeen

Economic ruin

Yet again we are plunged into a lockdown. How much longer will this nightmare of repeated lockdowns continue? When will the recovery of our economy take as much of a priority as health?

In 2019 my street in Gourock was in the running for the Great British High Street award and now one of the boutiques has closed for good due to lost income; how many more shops must suffer the same fate? I’d hate our high streets to become ghost towns with the only one profiting being Amazon.

Oftentimes for a person on their own a trip down the shops is the only social interaction they'll have all day, and having a conversation with a friendly, familiar face is enough to get them through the day. This shows just how important our local high streets are to peoples mental health and well-being.

Does the Scottish Parliament have a plan to keep the economy going? How are shops, cafes and independent businesses going to be supported and allowed to reopen, when they have spent time and money implementing Covid-19 procedures to allow everyone to shop, browse and/ or eat safely?

Annabel Robb

Kempock Street, Gourock

Black and white

I was not in the least surprised to read that Edinburgh Zoo’s pandas might have to return to China (Scotsman, 4 January). I hope they do, and the sooner the better.

When they arrived – as a money-making exercise from the zoo’s point of view – I said it was inadvisable and wrong. These magnificent animals should never have been sent here – at vast expense to Edinburgh Council, which is renting the pandas at the cost of about £1 million or more a year.

The subsequent attempts by every means possible (and almost impossible) to produce a cub were never going to work and I am afraid I said very clearly at the time that if a cub did appear I would eat my hat while watching the pigs flying past.

They have been living in totally abnormal conditions – they would never live side by side in the wild. The food and vet bills must have been huge and there was no way – even by artificial insemination – that a panda cub was going to be produced.

Yes, excited children saw live pandas – but how much better for the pandas, if they had they been left in China where the Chinese have an excellent record of producing live healthy cubs.

This was never a conservation project – it was about raising the zoo’s income, which no doubt it did for a while. Let the pandas go back now – where they still might have a decent life.

Pat Morris MRCVS Veterinary surgeon (retired)

HopetounTerrace, Gullane

Powerful poetry

To bring some cheer to the January gloom, I've discovered a brand new eco-friendly energy, the location for this wonderful source being St Martin's Church, Laugharne.

After Kata Mara's insipid recitation of Dylan Thomas' Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night in the first episode of the new BBC series A Teacher, the spinning of the bard like a top in his grave must surely hold the equivalence of a thousand new nuclear power stations.

Mark Boyle

Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

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