NHS rationing eye surgery24th May 2012
Patients are finding that they are facing restrictions on access to eye surgery in a growing number of areas.
Information obtained by the Royal National Institute of Blind People found that primary care trusts in England were imposing tougher criteria for cataract operations than the national standards.
It surveyed 152 trusts and found that more than half of them had opted for their own criteria, meaning that many patients were left to wait until their sight deteriorated before they qualified for treatment.
The revelation comes after the British Medical Association’s GPs conference was told that restrictions were being placed on access to all kinds of care.
RNIB health campaigns manager Clara Eaglen said: “People should not have to live with a reduced quality of life simply because trusts are using arbitrary criteria to determine whether they get to keep their sight.
“When a cataract begins to affect a person's everyday life, their sight will only continue to deteriorate. They will require surgery at some point in the future and not treating now will only increase waiting lists in the future.”
About 350,000 cataract operations are carried out on the NHS every year.
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists said the restrictions were “regrettable”, “arbitrary” and a “response to financial pressures, not clinical needs.”
Health Minister Simon Burns promised action against trusts that were stopping patients having cataract treatments just to save money.
“If patients need treatment, they should get it when they want it and where they want it,” he said.
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