New £25m Royal Eye Infirmary building opens in Plymouth to help cut waiting lists

The Royal Eye Infirmary has the latest equipment installed Credit: ITV West Country

A new £25 million building housing Plymouth’s Royal Eye Infirmary has been officially opened.

It includes a dedicated operating theatre for cataract operations, doubling the capacity to 4,000 a year, with the aim of cutting waiting lists.

The official ribbon cutting was performed by 96-year-old patient Bob Johns.

At the age of 5 his parents were told he was going blind. Mr Johns said: “I worked for 50 years in a job that I loved, I was even able to get a driving licence.

"They certainly worked some fine miracles, there’s no doubt about that.

“91 years of treatment, I’m a good advert for the Royal Eye Infirmary.”

96-year-old patient Robert Johns performed the official opening Credit: ITV West Country

Among the new facilities is a new theatre which is dedicated to doubling the number of cataract operations for patients from across Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Kwabena Frimpong-Ansah, REI Consultant Ophthalmologist, said: “We have huge backlogs across the country.

"So this building will provide us with that opportunity to see more patients, operate on more patients and see more patients in the outpatients departments in a timely fashion.”

The new facility will treat 400 patients every day, a 20% rise on current numbers.

As well as increasing the number of theatres from two to three there are also more treatment rooms and an expanded area for children.

The new building will treat 400 patients every week Credit: ITV West Country

The Royal Eye Infirmary first opened in 1901 in Mutley, but as treatments improved it moved to Derriford ten years ago, officially opened by Sophie, the Duchess of Edinburgh, who was the Countess of Wessex at the time.

Hospital bosses also hope this latest move will help recruitment.

Chief Executive of University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, Ann James, said: “If you've got state of the art building, state of the art equipment and you require the highest clinical skills, people want to come and work for its clinical excellence.

“And actually as well as that, they've got a beautiful place to live as well.”

The new building is just off William Prance Road, just around the corner from Derriford Hospital.

The move will now free up space for other departments on the main site to expand their services in the future.