"stepmother's difficulty in getting cataract treatment at QMC "

About: Queen's Medical Centre / Ophthalmology

(as a relative),

I have accompanied my stepmother, who is in her 80s, 3 referrals times to the cataract clinic at Queen's Medical Centre before she was finally put on the operation list. I am pleased to say she has now had her op and did well.The journey can now be told since until the op had been done I feared that right until the last minute this opportunity would be denied, and also should we complain she might then be taken off the list.

Referral 1, she had had a recent small stroke so was discharged since reasonably ops are not done until the person has been well for 6 months.

Summary: I believe that staff are told to ration surgery even though patients are in NICE guidelines because the member of staff who pushed in to a consultation to say' she had her 5 for the day' seemed to indicate that a target of max 5 from the clinic was expected and no more. The patient felt manipulated by the staff who, by asking if she could cope, discharged her. To me this seemed to be a way to get elderly patients to say they can cope. Turning around to say relatives are putting pressure on you to have an operation is despicable.

Referral 2. March 2011. The cataract clinic had then changed to a nurse led clinic, tests proved she was within the NICE guidelines for surgery, but she was discharged. How this was done - she was being tested by the optometrist and a person came into the room, who talked across us and said she had 'her 5 for the day'. I understood this to be a number of patients for surgery. My step mother was asked since she no longer drove a car it was not vital that she have the operation although she came within the guidelines, 'could she manage' with distance glasses for going out and a magnifying glass for reading. She had already said she could not enjoy the TV or paper but as one of the generation who 'managed' through the war, she said she thought she could, hence a quick discharge.

Referral 3 September 2011. This had been discussed carefully by her GP with us both since there was now a personal safety issue and like other cataract patients she was unable to distinguish water on the worktop where there were electric leads to kettle.The GP marked the referral as urgent; but since we have 'choose and Book, which I do not think takes into account that she had to wait for several weeks for clinic. Off we went again cataract still within guidelines and patient unable to see TV or paper; so we waited for it again 'can you cope'? At this point my stepmother was confused, she knew what the GP had said and this was important, and that she really could not cope. So I stepped in and said in the GP letter you will see in his opinion this is a safety issue. I thought that would stop what I felt was pressure to fall out of line but no the optimetrist turned to my step mother and said that my stepmothers relatives we pressurising her to have this operation. I found this comment totally out of line, but knew I should not loose my cool and ensure that she was put on this op list. She then had to wait 18 weeks since the date of referral to have her op date, then unfortunately she had a chest infection, so had another date 4 weeks later.

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