Long delays for treatment on the NHS are responsible for causing cataract patients to lose their eyesight, a security watchdog has warned. The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) said it had found more than 150 patient-safety incidents involving eye conditions reported by the NHS between April 2014 and December 2014 for which problems with monitoring and follow-up appointments were blamed.
Research has shown that as many as 22 cataract patients suffer severe or permanent vision loss a month because their follow-up appointments do not take place quickly enough.
A 14-year-old woman lost her eyesight after 13 months of delayed appointments.
An investigation into the case by the HSIB found that the patient initially saw seven different ophthalmologists about his vision after being referred by a high street optician in 2014. Before she underwent laser eye surgery in February 2014, she made several telephone calls to services raising concerns about her worsening condition.
By then, her eyesight had deteriorated so severely that the mother of three was reported to be severely impaired.
She told investigators that the delay had a “frightening effect,” stating: “I often feel worthless and struggle to cope.”
The HSIB, founded by former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to investigate systemic safety risks in healthcare, warned that there is insufficient capacity within hospital eye services to meet the needs of cataract patients.
Surveillance also revealed how the NHS had failed to act on previous warnings for more than ten years.
Its report, published on Thursday, states that standards for follow-up care for cataract patients were published in 2009, as well as safety reports detailing actions needed to prevent damage incidents and delays. Was.
The HSIB stated, “Despite these guidelines and recommendations, the lack of timely monitoring of patients with cataracts poses a patient safety risk.
This highlighted what it called “risk-avoiding” behavior by trainee doctors and temporary ophthalmologists who made unnecessary, or unnecessarily frequent, appointments and tests that made capacity issues worse and longer delay. It was found that these doctors were often being used by the NHS to cover up flaws or try and build additional capacity.
cataract is the world’s leading cause of irreversible blindness, and the HSIB warned that the lack of timely follow-up for cataract patients was a national security risk.
Keith Konradi, the chief investigator of the HSIB, said: “Our patient has been faced with the effects every day, including not being able to see the faces of their young children or read books to them.
“Despite some national recommendations being made ten years ago, this keeps happening and will only worsen as the population ages — a 4 percent increase in the number of people with cataracts is predicted by the year 2035.
The safety body, which mirrors the approach of the Air Accident Investigation Branch, has now made several recommendations to the NHS on how it should improve eye care services.
This includes the way NHS England has replaced IT fund services, as it is paid less for follow-up appointments than initial tests, resulting in the preference for new dates. The HSIB asked hospitals to require the data to be collected and reported about follow-up appointments.
The HSIB also asked the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) to review the models of care and the workforce needed to deliver the service.
RCOphth President Mike Burden said: “We have been promoting for some time how delays in following appointments result in loss of vision for patients. HSIB reports and recommendations are highly welcomed and not ignored. Should be done.
“With demand for eye services forecasting growth of over 40 percent over the next 20 years, urgent action is needed, and we look forward to working with NHS England and other key stakeholders for the transformation of eye services.” The vision of patients to protect.
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