The Macular Society has formally delivered a petition to 10 Downing Street that calls for a stop to “needless sight loss.”
The petition, which reached 11,000 signatures, was given to government by volunteers of the charity, Chris Thorley and Elaine Shaw (pictured below).
Mr Thorley, who has myopic CNV, waited more than nine months for urgent treatment and earlier this year felt he had no choice but to attend the offices of his local healthcare commissioners to demand answers. Although he is now receiving treatment, he will never regain the sight he has lost while he waited.
The petition calls on the Department of Health to prioritise eye health and put a stop to these unnecessary delays, which lead to needless sight loss.
Chief executive of the Macular Society, Cathy Yelf, has also written to health secretary Jeremy Hunt, as well as the chief executives of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and NHS England about Mr Thorley’s situation.
Ms Yelf explained: “It is very distressing for patients to be in this position and, of course, when patients go untreated for many months they inevitably suffer irreversible sight loss.”
In the petition, many people shared their own stories of delays, poor treatment and lack of communication.
Ms Yelf added: “Day after day we hear of shocking variation in the quality of care offered to people with macular disease. NHS eye clinics are overwhelmed but there are numerous ways in which services may be improved, clinically, holistically, and indeed, financially. What is required, above all, is direct and accountable leadership, with the authority to intervene at both local and national level, across providers, commissioners and indeed, NHS England.”
The Macular Society has called for the urgent appointment of an eye health commissioner, who can lead ophthalmologists, optometrists and the wider NHS eye service, to ensure that all patients receive the highest level of care.