Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Scandal of waiting time for cataract operation

LAST November, I was diagnosed with large cataracts in both eyes (I am 72). I had to wait until January to join the queue for day-surgery at the Downe Hospital in Downpatrick.

The operation for the first eye was performed in August, after which there was no follow-up by medical staff at the Downe.

Because one eye could see well, while the other was misty, my brain has had a hard time adjusting. As a result, I have fallen over kerbs and lost a wallet, a credit card and a passport due to impaired vision.

There is little prospect of the second cataract operation being performed before November. This is utterly scandalous.

Cataract day-surgery is the most common of all operations. It takes just 20 minutes to perform.

Money and doctors are sent out to Africa to perform similar simple operations as part of the UK's aid programme. But the Down-Lisburn Trust has a "backlog".

It is possible for wealthier folk to have cataract day-surgery at a private clinic in Belfast for £1,300.

So why can't the Down-Lisburn Trust clear its "backlog" by sending people to a private clinic? It is not unusual for elderly patients to be driven by taxi to Dublin for treatments, which the health service pays for.

From what I read, the more glamorous/fashionable heart-transplant, or costly cancer treatment, is more easily available through the health service than a mere cataract procedure.

ANTHONY WEIR

Downpatrick

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