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Vision for region’s Eye Hospital in Sunderland gets go-ahead

Plans to create a new state-of-the-art Eye Hospital in Sunderland have been given the go ahead by Sunderland City Council.

The planning application for the new £36m NHS facility was submitted over the summer and has been approved by Sunderland City Council’s planning committee this evening [1 November]. 

The new Eye Hospital will replace the existing Sunderland Eye Infirmary facilities on Queen Alexandra Road which are now over 75 years old.   The new hospital means Sunderland will remain home to the region’s only dedicated standalone eye hospital and one of very few specialist centres for ophthalmology care in the whole NHS.

Plans for the new Eye Hospital took on board the views of hundreds of patients and members of the public from across the region, as well as The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), following an extensive patient and public involvement process led by South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.  

Feedback has been overwhelming positive and it is expected that work will now begin on site in spring 2022 following the anticipated announcement of a preferred contractor in the coming days.  The new Eye Hospital is expected to open its doors in 2024.

All clinical services currently provided from the existing Sunderland Eye Infirmary will transfer to the new state-of-the-art facility to be delivered from a new modern, purpose-built environment in a much more accessible city centre location.

The new Eye Hospital will continue to be home to the Regional Cataract Treatment Centre and will strengthen Sunderland’s existing reputation across the NHS, both regionally and nationally, as a centre of excellence for eye services, caring for patients from across the North East, Cumbria and beyond.

Ken Bremner MBE, Chief Executive of South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted to see our ambition to create a world-class eye hospital in Sunderland take this important step forward. This is excellent news for our team at Sunderland Eye Infirmary and for the many patients who access our specialist eye services from across the whole region.

“We could not have got this far without the involvement and feedback from our patients, partners and of course our fantastic staff. Their expertise and input has been invaluable and is helping us to create an innovative facility that will provide the highest standards of care for our patients for generations to come.

“As we move into the next exciting phase and start see our new eye hospital take shape, we will continue to involve people to make sure the building meets to needs of everyone who will use it.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “I’m delighted to see the plans for the new eye hospital moving forward, as I know residents will be too. 

“Riverside Sunderland is transforming into a world-class urban quarter – the quality of the developments on the site is truly second-to-none, and this hospital will be no exception. 

“Our eye hospital is a tremendous asset, and it will soon operate out of a building that reflects this.  It’s a fantastic moment for South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, for Riverside Sunderland and indeed for residents who can access world-leading care in a building that is fit for purpose.”

The plans for the hospital have been developed by the Council with an award winning team, including North East architects Ryder and Turner & Townsend Project Management, made possible thanks to strong collaboration between the NHS and the local authority.  

The new Eye Hospital will stand alongside The Beam; City Hall, which is just days away from completion, and two further commercial properties that are being developed as part of Legal & General’s £100m commitment to Riverside Sunderland.  The building is one of a number of large-scale development projects progressing in the city centre, part of an ambitious vision to double the residential population in the city centre and increase employment by 50 per cent.

For more information visit about the region’s new Eye Hospital visit www.stsft.nhs.uk/neweyehospital.  To stay up to date with progress at Riverside Sunderland, visit www.riversidesunderland.com or follow @RiversideSund on social media.