"Why is the glaucoma clinic so underfunded?"

About: Leicester Royal Infirmary

Having attended the Ophthalmology Clinic for well over 20 years I have seen the service deteriorate drastically over the last few years. I have had five cancelled appointments in the last two years and even after complaining to the PILS I still have to wait twice the time recommended by my consultant between appointments. My optician tells me that someone with severe damage to the back of the eye as I have should be seen by a consultant at least every six months and whilst it may be possible to push out the time between appointments for less severe glaucoma patients mine should be at regular intervals. I understand that the Glaucoma Clinic in Leicester has some of the worst waiting times in the Country, waiting time in Nottingham to be seen in a Glaucoma clinic is a fraction of the waiting time in Leicester. I have written several times to try to highlight this problem including a letter to the Chief Executive but to no avail. The only feedback that I receive is that they are working on the problem and new systems are being put into place to solve it. I have now been told this for the last four years and during that time the service has deteriorated even further. We have one of the best Diabetes Clinics in the Country at the LRI so why is Glaucoma so underfunded? I am told that when patients are booked into the Clinics there is no Consultant in place at that time and if one cannot be found then the clinic has to be cancelled which explains why appointments are constantly being cancelled. Why are we suddenly so short of Glaucoma Consultants, it is certainly not the lack of applicants when a vacancy is advertised. I was operated on in a clinic many years ago and have attended regular follow up appointments which I have never missed in all that time, I assume that is why my eyesight is still good. I will be ever grateful to the doctor and his team and remember when the clinic ran like clockwork, it was a pleasure to attend and you had full confidence in the team, so why with all the new developments and knowledge that we now have is the service so bad. I am sure that the Consultants in the department work extremely hard and I am more than satisfied with my consultant when I eventually manage to get to see her but there seems to be an underlying problem in the administration or funding of the department that undermines the work that they do. Still being in my sixties hopefully I still have many more years to live and would like to feel that my eyesight will remain as good as it is at the moment but I now have genuine worries that with the length of time between my appointments if anything should start to go wrong at the back of the eye it will not be picked up in time before it has permanently damaged my sight and once sight has gone it has gone for ever!!

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Response from Leicester Royal Infirmary

Dear Mr Pickard Thank you for taking the time to provide your feedback. Although we understand your concerns, our waiting times aren’t due to under funding and we are fully recruited to the number of posts we are funded for. With Glaucoma a significant problem in Leicestershire, our service’s capacity is simply not big enough to meet the ever growing demand. There are schemes being developed within the community to try to release capacity within the hospital, however this is dependant on schemes not owned by the Trust and is also reliant on high street optometrists wanting to develop their own case mix (the type or mix of patients they treat). We do absolutely recognise your concerns in particular those about your eyesight. And we sincerely regret that you have had a number of cancelled appointments in the last two years. Please accept my apologies for that. I would very much like to discuss your feedback with you with view to hopefully appeasing your concerns. My email address is martin.watts@uhl-tr.nhs.uk. Sincerely Martin Watts Service Manager

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