“...all you do every day is wait for a letter to come to say here’s your appointment.”

Radio Merseyside on NHS Cataract Surgery Waiting Time | The cataract referral experience of two Terrys

On May 25th, 2018 SpaMedica was mentioned on BBC Radio Merseyside’s talk show with Roger Phillips presented by Connor Phillips.  A tale of two Terrys was told; the first Terry was still on the NHS waiting list, waiting for his cataract consultation 6 months after receiving a cataract referral from his GP, comparatively the second Terry got ahead of the NHS cataract surgery average waiting time and already had cataract surgery on both eyes after seeing his optician and being referred to SpaMedica 2 months prior. Dr Alan Roberts later calls in to try to shed some light on why the two Terrys had such different experiences. Listen here:


Source: Roger Phillips, 2018 [radio]. BBC Radio Merseyside. 25 May. 12:00

The first Terry, an office worker from Kirkdale, visited his opticians to get new glasses only to find out that he was experiencing all the cataracts symptoms and indeed he had a cataract. He received a cataract referral from his GP in January 2018 and was subsequently placed on the cataracts NHS waiting list. During the radio interview, this Terry, was still waiting to see a consultant for his initial appointment. Terry’s main frustration is whilst he is on the NHS waiting list is that he was still unsure of the time frame he is expected to wait. Regrettably, Terry’s case is very common.


Being on the NHS waiting list

As he waits on the NHS waiting list without cataracts treatment, Terry’s vision is limited – unable to see more than 5 yards on a sunny day –  thankfully though, his vision loss hasn’t reached a critical point for his work yet, he is still able to work. Terry highlights this wouldn’t be the case for everyone,

“…if you were a taxi driver, or a bus driver or a train driver you wouldn’t be able to work it’s as simple as that, but my main point is that there must be a lot of people in the Merseyside area in the same situation as me, where basically you’re glad today’s overcast because you can see better, it’s a fact, if you’re in the house you close the blinds you can see better, if you open them it’s difficult to see… all you do every day is wait for a letter to come to say here’s your appointment.”

Terry continues,

“… how long you’re going to be waiting I don’t know, and, if say, you had someone who only had their sight in one eye and depended on that other eye and got this cataracts situation – they would really struggle.”


NHS Cataract Surgery Waiting Time

After being advised to go back to his GP if he hadn’t received an appointment by March 26th, Terry’s NHS cataract surgery waiting time had now reached 3 months.

“It is frustrating because if you ever get it, it basically blurs your vision, you get a lot of water in your eye, you get what they call dry eyes where you’ve got to bathe them of a morning – it’s just so frustrating at times you know. Basically, I just feel someone has to speak out for all those people in the Merseyside area who are just waiting for that letter to come through to see the consultant and yet they’re not getting any contact from anyone at all.”


Cataracts treatment with SpaMedica

The second Terry, from West Derby, received his cataracts treatment with SpaMedica, he was referred from Specsavers  to  had a very different experience,

“…I never heard of any [NHS waiting] list at all… I actually went to Specsavers for an eye test and they discovered that I had cataracts, and within a fortnight I was referred to a place in Liverpool, SpaMedica. And, as I say within 3 weeks I was down I had the left eye done, and basically another 3 weeks and I had the right one done, and I can’t thank these people enough. But with regards to a [NHS waiting] list no one ever mentioned that I was on any list at all, I just got a letter.”

Dr Alan Roberts from Wallasey in Merseyside explains why the NHS cataract surgery waiting time for office worker Terry continues to be considerably much much longer;

“Because of the pressure of the NHS, the way the system works is the email goes off to the hospital, it also is stored on a national computer database and if the patient hasn’t got an appointment on the hospital computer within 18 weeks they write to the patient to say, ‘You haven’t made an appointment…’ and the patient says, ‘Well I haven’t made an appointment because nobodies given me an appointment…’ and the letter says go back to your GP.”

Dr Allan goes on to clarify why Terry from West Derby had a very different experience,

“SpaMedica are a very organised organisation who do it very quickly and (have) become very slick at it because that is all they do. What he could do is go back to his GP and ask to be re-referred through the SpaMedica system.

In some areas, opticians have the power to refer to the likes of SpaMedica and in other areas the opticians don’t have the power – they have to go through the GPs and that is the sadness of the whole system that there are multiple ways into the system instead of one…

A bit of advice (for Terry who is still waiting) either go back and ask the opticians to reassess and maybe ask the optician can he refer to SpaMedica. The other thing is there is usually a cut off, I don’t mind telling you that I’ve got a small cataract, it’s not a major problem at the moment and I get it checked every year or so and it’s not until it comes to a threshold that it affects your vision will the hospital do the operation anyway.”


SpaMedica promotes the patients right to choose

Did you know that as an NHS patient you can choose where you get treated? If you would like to request where to be treated, please get in contact with your local clinical commissioning group (CCG). For more information on choosing your hospital or service click here. For more information on getting a referral visit the SpaMedica referrals page by clicking here.

“...all you do every day is wait for a letter to come to say here’s your appointment.”

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