"A & E Opthalmology services"

About: Eastbourne District General Hospital

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I have iritis which is the 3rd leading preventable cause of blindness in the UK and must be treated immediately on flare ups. I phoned EDGH ahead of travelling to see where the emergency opthalmologist was since one has to cover Eastbourne, Hastings and Brighton- so only 40 miles apart- what's the problem!.... I was told just to come to EDGH and they would call the ophthalmologist. I arrived 9.15pm and was told by the receptionist that she had just seen the opthalmologist in the building. I then waited nearly an hour to see the triage assessment nurse and was told that they would now find the ophthalmologist- who then did not respond to any messages and had left the building - 4 hours later I was still waiting for information. The helpful receptionist told me that they had sent messages but were getting no response and they did not know where the opthalmologist was. Eventually when I enquired again at reception, she went to find the nurse in charge and came back saying I would be seen by a doctor not the ophthalmologist- despite this condition needing specialist knowledge. The doctor was pleasant but clearly not familiar with the equipment and did not check my eye properly- he gave me the drops I told him I usually have but I left with very little confidence in his assessment of me since he did not look properly at my eye. I have been told by my specialist to always get a proper examination done before taking steroid drops because the wrong treatment can permanently damage the eye. They always dilate the pupil as part of this examination and look into the rear of the eye- he did neither and just gave me what I told him to. .And he did not wash his hands or wipe the equipment before or after use. My feeling is that the emergency opthalmology services are hopelessly inadequate for Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings patients, since it is far too large an area to cover by one person for emergencies. It would take 40 minutes just to travelling from one to another of the 3 hospitals so how can they cover emergencies in 3 places. One time I went to EDGH they told me I could either wait 2 or 3 hrs at EDGH or drive to Hastings where I would be seen sooner- I still waited an hour at Hastings after a 45 min drive of 23 miles with an eye condition that half blinds me. Be warned if you need emergency eye treatment to phone around the 3 hospitals and get a definitive answer as to where the specialist is- that is assuming they are not doing the 40 minute drive between one or other hospital- or worse- the 1hr 10 minute journey from Brighton to Hastings on an emergency.....

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Response from Eastbourne District General Hospital

Firstly we apologise for our delay in posting a response. However, please be assured that all feedback is forwarded to relevant management staff within the organization. This will include the lead clinician for Ophthalmology in respect of the medical care you described and the provision of emergency ophthalmology services. As a Trust we are committed to giving the highest quality of care to our patients, we’re therefore concerned to learn of your experience and hope to learn from the comments you raise by discussing them at one of our Patient Experience Champion sessions. For your future reference, we have a Patient Advice & Liaison Service (PALS) who are always happy to look into individual patient concerns. They can be contacted on 01323 435886 or by email at: PALSE@esht.nhs.uk. Thank you for taking the time to let us know about your experience and your views.

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