Eye services respond to cataract fee claims

Managers of eye services respond to a Daily Mail report which found some NHS hospitals are offering patients the opportunity to pay for cataract operations and reduce waiting times

13 Jul 2015 by Emily McCormick

Managers of NHS eye services in Plymouth and Rochdale have labelled recent reports of NHS hospitals across England offering self-funded cataract surgery “misleading.”

Last month, the Daily Mail obtained figures through Freedom of Information which showed that, of 78 hospital trusts across England, 41 allowed patients to self-fund cataract treatments, charging up to £2,700 an eye. According to the paper, the figures showed hospitals in England offering paid-for operations charged between £700 and £1,000 per eye.

A statement issued by Care UK, a company which runs the Rochdale Ophthalmology Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service (CATS) on behalf of local NHS commissioners, stated: “The recent suggestion that NHS patients should self-fund cataract surgery to beat long waiting lists is misleading and unnecessary in many parts of England.”

Kenneth Brearton, who manages Rochdale Ophthalmology CATS, said: “I really want people in the Rochdale area and beyond to be aware that they don’t have to pay in order to get their cataract operations quickly thanks to our innovative and much-loved local NHS service.”

Patricia Warwick, hospital director at Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre in Plymouth, added: “When we read recent reports we were concerned that people in Devon and Cornwall would feel they had no alternative but to pay for cataract surgery. We want patients to know that, as long as they meet the NHS criteria for surgery, they can receive free NHS treatment from us within 18 weeks, in a consultant-led service. Indeed, at the moment we’re working to a 10–12 week period between referral and operation.”

Waiting times at the specialist clinic for cataract operations in Rochdale are only four to six weeks, Care UK said.

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