The Macular Society has announced that it has written directly to the health secretary in a call for an urgent investigation into the eye services at an NHS Trust in England.
In the letter, the charity highlights to Matt Hancock that hundreds of patients are at risk of going blind as a result of the actions of Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust.
There is an ongoing independent review into some of the services at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust, but this does not include the hospital’s ophthalmology service, the charity highlighted.
Chief executive of the Macular Society, Cathy Yelf, has previously written to and met with senior managers at the Trust to raise concerns about the eye service that it offers, specifically for patients with age-related macular degeneration.
Ms Yelf said: “We believe hundreds of patients will have lost vision unnecessarily as a result of the poor service at this clinic.”
She stressed: “It is a scandal that patients across the country are going blind because many services are under-resourced and under-funded. We’re extremely troubled that this situation in Shrewsbury is continuing and that patients are potentially coming to harm. We have expressed our concerns on this issue on a number of occasions.”
Earlier this year, the charity obtained documents in which senior hospital staff confirmed there was a ‘significant issue’ in the ophthalmology department, which was causing delays that could lead to ‘irreversible vision loss’ for some patients. One problem highlighted in the documents was that there was no agreement on whether the eye department should have its own fridge to store the drugs that it uses to treat patients.
The papers also reported that 128 patients with deteriorating eyesight waited longer than national guidelines recommend for treatment.
“This situation has horrific consequences for patients,” Ms Yelf said. “Many letters, emails, telephone calls and meetings have failed to bring any resolution to this problem. We hope Mr Hancock takes these concerns seriously and initiates an urgent investigation.”