• 30 May 2019
  • 2 min read

Thousands of cataract operations rejected in a bid to cut costs

  • Nurses.co.uk News
    Editorial and news team

Thousands of cataract operations rejected in a bid to cut costs NHS patients are being made to wait for a lengthy amount of time for their procedures, with many requests for cataract surgery being instantly rejected.

Thousands of elderly people affected by cataracts ‘are being left housebound and at risk of galls’ as NHS bosses ration surgery to try and cut costs, says The Independent.

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• More than 2500 NHS Scotland operations cancelled in March

20% of patients now have to undergo another pre-approval check after being referred for surgery, a significant rise from 7% of patients in 2016-2017.

An investigation from the British Medical Journal found that nearly 3,000 patients saw their ophthalmologist’s request for the cataract surgery rejected.

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2017 guidance from the National Institute for Health Care Excellence (NICE) said that the cataracts procedure is one of the most cost effective surgeries and shouldn’t be limited to those with severe vision loss.

Mike Burdon, president of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, said “What is the point of NICE doing detailed evaluation if CCGs [clinical commissioning groups] are just going to knowingly ignore that advice?”

“The health service budget is limited, but you should make those spending decisions on the basis of the clinical evidence. Cataract surgery comes out as probably the most cost effective thing in the NHS.”

With around 400,000 procedures a year, cataract surgery is the most common operation carried out in the UK and drastically improves a person’s quality of life.

NHS clinical commissioning groups have been trying to restrict non-urgent surgeries to ‘free up funds and hospital capacity’ - according to The Independent, last winter 70,000 NHS patients waited over 6 months for non-essential procedures such as cataract and hip surgeries.

Surgeons warned that patients were having to ‘beg for treatment’.

It seems as though for some to benefit from these cuts, others are being made to suffer.