Private eye clinic sees admissions surge by 35%

Ophthalmic Consultants of London has seen a steep increase in patients compared to the same period last year

OCL clinic
A private eye clinic in London has seen its admissions increase by more than a third as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Ophthalmic Consultants of London, in Marylebone, saw 35% more patients between July and September 2020 than it did in the same period last year.

The clinic, which specialises in eye surgery, is putting its increase in patients down to the cancellation of ‘non-essential’ NHS appointments as a result of the pandemic.

NHS England data reveals that in August, more than 111,000 patients who had been referred for hospital treatment were still waiting to be seen. Among those awaiting eye surgery, 41.8% were seen within the NHS target of 18 weeks. The number of patients waiting a year for NHS treatment is currently at a 12-year high.

Demand for private treatment at Ophthalmic Consultants of London was strongest among cataract patients, with 47% more cataract operations being performed between July and September than in the same period last year.

The clinic hopes that its services can continue to ease the NHS backlog as the pandemic continues.

Juliet Hicks, chief operating officer, said: “The private healthcare sector rightly regards itself as a complement rather than a competitor to the NHS, and that has never been truer than it is now.

“With around 10% of UK residents having private medical insurance and a further 5% choosing to pay for private treatment themselves, the sector is providing a vital safety valve for the NHS as it has to prioritise its resources to tackle a second wave of coronavirus cases.”

She added: “With millions of Britons once again living under lockdown conditions, it’s striking that many Baby Boomers – the demographic most affected by cataracts – are choosing to invest money they might have spent on a holiday this year into saving their sight.”