NHS Lothian criticised as patients revealed to be waiting more than a year for Glaucoma treatment

The common eye condition gets worse with time and can lead to sight loss.

Wednesday, 1st January 2020, 12:00 pm
Glaucoma is common but can lead to sight loss

Patients in the Lothians waiting to be treated for the potentially blinding eye condition glaucoma are facing waits of more than a year before being seen by a consultant.

New waiting time figures, released via a Freedom of Information Request, show patients who must be seen by a specialist glaucoma consultant are facing waits of 64 weeks in NHS Lothian.

Glaucoma is a common eye condition which is caused by damage to the optic nerve.

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Miles Briggs MSP criticised the waiting times

It usually affects people over the age of 70 and can lead to permanent sight loss if the condition is not diagnosed and treated early.

NHS Lothian apologised to patients who have experienced long waits and blamed the backlog on the number of referrals exceeding the health service’s current capacity.

'Deeply concerning'

The waiting times, equivalent to 15 months, were criticised by a Lothian MSP and labeled “deeply concerning”.

Miles Briggs, the Conservative MSP, said he has written to NHS Lothian for answers.

He said: “It is deeply concerning that new Glaucoma patients are having to wait well over a year to be seen by a Glaucoma Consultant.

“The condition gets worse over time, leaving a patients sight irreparably damaged and affecting their quality of life.”

'I apologise'

Jacquie Campbell, Chief Officer, Acute Services, NHS Lothian, said: “I apologise to anyone who has been waiting longer than they should for a glaucoma appointment.

“Our ophthalmology glaucoma service receives a high number of referrals each month that exceeds our existing capacity and has resulted in long waits for specialist consultant review.

“The Ophthalmology Clinical Management Team continually looks for ways to ensure that patients are assessed and treated in a timely and clinically appropriate manner.

“Actions we have already undertaken to reduce waits include consultants providing additional evening clinics; recruiting an NHS Locum Consultant to help reduce waiting times across sub-specialties and recruiting additional permanent medical, nursing and imaging staff.

“We have also run training programmes to expand the skills of our nursing teams, to allow them to deliver treatments for specific groups of patients.

“We remain committed to continuing our efforts to further reduce waiting times.”