"Uveitis Treatment"

About: Princess Alexandra Eye Pavillion

(as the patient),

I have had recurring uveitis for many years. I have always had excellent treatment from the Eye Hospital in Edinburgh, and feel very fortunate to have this facility available. I am fortunate: usually the condition is not especially severe, and after a few days of using drops, my eye is back to normal. I was once advised by a doctor at the eye hospital to visit the hospital as soon as uveitis symptoms occurred - because untreated it may cause permanent eye damage. There was, they suggested, none to delay by making a GP appointment in order to get a referral.

This policy has clearly changed in recent years, and I do understand that a combination of an ageing population and scarcity of NHS resources has led to the need to manage the demands placed upon frontline health services generally. On a recent occasion in which my uveitis flared up, I visited the eye hospital, and felt berated by the clerical worker on the desk - who seemed to assume (a) that I should be aware of the apparent change of policy, and (b) that their role was to act as a de facto bouncer. They reluctantly agreed to have me seen by a triage nurse, who promptly confirmed that I had uveitis, and arranged for prompt treatment. I was informed at that time that on the next occasion I ought to visit an optician in order to get a referral. When recently I once again had a recurrence of the condition, I phoned an optician, and was given an appointment for the next day. Eventually the optician saw me, confirmed what I already knew - that I had uveitis - and telephoned the eye hospital to make an appointment for the next day. As ever I had excellent treatment from the nursing staff - and the drops eased the pain and discomfort almost immediately. My question is this: given that I have patient records at the eye hospital, and given that as a regular sufferer from this condition, why is it necessary for me to go to the additional time and trouble of making an optician's appointment, visiting the optician, declining the opportunity to purchase new spectacles, and only then, some time later, going to the hospital for the treatment which I know that I need? I understand that the medical staff there are too busy to deal with cases of conjunctivitis, and similar conditions which can be dealt with by a pharmacist. I also understand that many people will clog up the system for different reasons that may be trivial. But - given the potential severity of this condition, and given that I am capable (as will be all uveitis sufferers) of self-diagnosing this condition, why can't I have a card which confirms that I am susceptible to this condition, and am an established patient of the eye hospital?

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Response from Jeannette Morrison, Head of Patient Experience, NHS Lothian

Dear Spinoza

Thank you for your comments about your longstanding care at the Eye Pavilion. I am sorry that l don't know the answer but have contacted the team to ask about this change in policy and once l hear back from them l will respond again and hope to be back in touch as soon as l can.

Kind regards


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