Private Cataract Surgery Problems For NHS Patients

Problems Following Private Cataract Surgery For NHS Patients In South Devon


Concerns have been raised regarding medical practice at a South Devon hospital after it was revealed NHS patients sent to a private facility for cataract surgery experienced significant problems and had to return to the free healthcare trust for further treatment.

The Guardian reports that patients were sent to Torquay's private Mount Stuart hospital - operated by Ramsay Health Care - for the operation due to a new contract involving the NHS South Devon Healthcare Foundation Trust.

On July 26th, 19 patients received cataract surgery at Mount Stuart, with two patients needing to visit A&E within days of their operations after experiencing problems with their sight, triggering concerns this may have been related to the medical care they had recently received.

A spokeswoman from the NHS South Devon Healthcare Foundation Trust told the Guardian: "Our ophthalmologists have now seen all 19 patients who had their cataract surgery at Mount Stuart and will continue to keep them under review to establish whether there is any long-term impact on their eyesight.

"Until the outcome of the investigation is known, we will not be referring any further patients to Mount Stuart for cataract surgery," she added.

Currently, none of the affected patients have needed further surgery, but reviews are still underway and some have already made a full recovery.

However, the General Medical Council has been informed of the issue.

Similar problems relating to NHS patients being sent for private eye surgery and receiving inadequate care were reported in Somerset in May this year.

Therefore, this latest incident only adds to the debate as to whether or not NHS services should be outsourced. This is a difficult issue, as neither the Department of Health nor the NHS collects comparative statistics on the quality of health care patients receive at different hospitals.

Devon-based NHS patients have been referred to Mount Stuart for around a decade, with a variety of operations taking place at the private hospital.

Expert Opinion
Patient care should always be a top priority, whether people are being treated at NHS facilities or at private clinics. The fact that these patients required additional medical care after a relatively simple procedure is worrying and it is vital a thorough investigation is carried out and any failures found are dealt with quickly.

“We have seen numerous cases of people suffering life-changing injuries as a result of mistakes being made during medical procedures and we welcome the decision by the NHS South Devon Healthcare Foundation Trust to stop sending patients to the Mouth Stuart hospital for cataract removal procedures until the investigation is completed.”
Julie Lewis, Partner