Eye service managers from Plymouth to Rochdale say ‘no need for NHS patients to pay for cataract surgery’
April 27 2015
Managers of NHS services from Plymouth and Rochdale want local people to know that the recent suggestion that NHS patients should self-fund cataract surgery to beat long waiting lists is misleading and unnecessary in many parts of England.
Kenneth Brearton who manages the Rochdale Ophthalmology Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service (CATS), said: “I really want people in the Rochdale area and beyond to be aware that they don’t have to pay in order to get their cataract operations quickly thanks to our innovative and much-loved local NHS service.”
Rochdale Ophthalmology CATS is run by healthcare experts Care UK on behalf of local NHS commissioners. At the moment, waiting times at the specialist clinic for cataract operations are only four to six weeks.
Recent media coverage has suggested that people are being forced to wait eight months or more for a simple NHS-funded cataract operation in many parts of the country. Only last week, a patient from the midlands decided to make the 70 mile journey up to Rochdale because she realised that she could have her NHS cataract operation in a few short weeks instead of the several months being offered in her home town.
Patricia Warwick, hospital director at Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre in Plymouth said: “When we read recent reports we were concerned that people in Devon and Cornwall would feel they had no alternative but to pay for cataract surgery. We want patients to know that, as long as they meet the NHS criteria for surgery, they can receive free NHS treatment from us within 18 weeks, in a consultant-led service. Indeed, at the moment we’re working to a 10-12 week period between referral and operation.”
All NHS patients are able to exercise their right to choose a provider when talking to their optometrist or doctor and a great many local people request treatment at their local Care UK-run NHS service, which also includes sites in Ilford, Kent, Bristol, Southampton and Portsmouth. The centres are modern, have never had a case of MRSA and have excellent clinical outcomes.
Kenneth from Rochdale Ophthalmology CATS continued: “Local people who are struggling with their cataracts don’t have to wait until life becomes too difficult or to dip into their savings to pay for quicker treatment. As long as they meet NHS criteria for surgery, they can receive free NHS treatment from us – in timescales as short as four to12 weeks.”
It’s estimated that around 2.5 million people aged 65 and over in England and Wales have some form of vision impairment caused by cataracts. A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye that can become severe enough to impair vision.
Once a cataract starts developing, the lens loses its transparency and also its ability to change shape. This causes the symptoms of gradual blurring of vision and a change in the effectiveness of a person’s glasses. Often a person with a cataract will go to their optometrist believing their glasses are no longer strong enough and learn for the first time about their cataract. Cataract surgery is the removal of the cataract and insertion of an artificial lens into the eye. It is the most successful and most frequently performed operation in the UK with over 325,000 cases annually.