Cataract surgery cuts16th July 2012
NHS trusts have placed "harsh restrictions" on cataract surgery which could affect many elderly patients, the Daily Mail reports.
The paper said the amount of cataract surgeries being carried out by the NHS had fallen by more than 25% in some regions of the country.
Research published by the Royal National Institute of Blind People showed more than 50% of health service trusts had put in force their own conditions for the surgery which were more severe than national guidelines.
Labour's health spokesman Andy Burnham, who is due to raise the figures in the House of Commons, said the restrictions on cataract operations were a "false economy".
A freedom of information request by the RNIB discovered that the amount of cataract operations was 350,602 in 2010 but this figure fell to 338,565 in 2011.
The number of cataract procedures performed in Worcestershire stood at 3,188 in 2011 but there were 4,388 in 2010 (a drop of 27%).
Operations carried out in Nottingham City fell by a quarter to 1,287, and Brighton and Hove showed a similar decrease of 24% to 1,566.
The FOI requests showed 57% of PCTs said they "had set their own criteria for access to cataract surgery" which included more conditions than those set by the DH.
Steve Winyard, head of policy at the RNIB, said: "We are desperately concerned about what is happening. These new figures show for the first time what we thought was happening, which is that the numbers of operations being carried out is falling."
"Clearly, we would expect to see a gradual rise, given the ageing population. But a lot of PCTs are putting in place restrictive policies. It’s elective surgery, so they just tell opthamologists they can’t carry out as many operations."
"People’s sight then has to fall an awfully long way before they qualify. It’s short-termism of the worst kind."
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