Derek Thomas met with representatives of one of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies in Westminster this week to discuss ophthalmology services in Cornwall.
The meeting with a team from the Bayer organisation, followed a Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection of the Royal Cornwall Hospital which found that 1,200 patients were waiting for treatment for a disease called wet age-related macular degeneration (wAMD), the UK’s leading cause of sight loss.
The inspection found that patients were not being reviewed within a safe timeframe, and that delays in treatment caused at least four people to suffer partial sight loss or complete blindness between July 2016 and May 2017.
Mr Thomas said: “People who have suffered from sight loss are more likely to experience social isolation, depression and other psychological problems and there are also close links between eye disease and avoidable health problems, such as falls – particularly amongst the elderly.
“The Royal Cornwall Hospital treats patients from all over Cornwall, and as Cornwall has a higher prevalence of sight loss caused by wAMD than the country as a whole it is important that ophthalmology services are prioritised to prevent more people losing their sight unnecessarily.
“The latest CQC report indicates there have been improvements to ophthalmology services at RCHT but it was good to discuss some of the very positive ideas that Bayer has to support the hospital and help prevent avoidable sight loss.”