16:59 17 July 2012
The NHS recently placed restrictions on cataract surgery, which means thousands of elderly people are at risk of permanently losing their eyesight.
The restrictions had a grave effect as the number of cataract operations carried out by the NHS reduced by more than a quarter in some areas last year despite the fact that England’s population is continuously aging. This dramatic reduction occurred after more than 50% of NHS trusts in England set their own criteria in selecting candidates who will be given the surgery. The criteria are reportedly tougher than national guidelines, a research conducted by the Royal National Institute of Blind People reveals.
These harsh restrictions are being linked to primary care trusts or PCTs, which manage the NHS and are said to be rationing the budget for such operations.
Labour health spokesman Andy Burnham is planning to bring the issue to Parliament. “Cutting back on cataract surgery was a false economy,” he says, after considering that patients who are untreated for cataract will be more likely to suffer falls or to require social care.
Cataracts, a common eyesight problem among the elderly, refer to cloudy patches that develop on the lens of the eye that may eventually lead to loss of sight. They occur in a third of people over the age of 65 and can only be treated by surgery. Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures traditionally offered by the NHS.
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