Patients requiring treatment for advanced eye conditions, which was put on hold during lockdown, can now be cared for by Newmedica again.
Newmedica’s eye health clinics have opened to restart treatment for patients already in their care as well as receive new referrals from optometrists and GPs whose patients have experienced recent problems or a sudden drop in vision.
With clinics in Bristol, Gloucester, Grimsby, Leeds and Middlesbrough, Newmedica delivers advanced eye health services for NHS and private patients for conditions including cataract and glaucoma, as well as providing general ophthalmology care and oculoplastic surgeries.
Nigel Kirkpatrick (left), medical director at Newmedica in Gloucester, said: ‘Life has been difficult for most people because of the Covid-19 pandemic and that includes those who had started treatment for serious eye health conditions or who were already in desperate need of care before lockdown.
‘Our first priority is to pick up where we left off, focusing on patients who had attended for first eye cataract procedures and have been left with visual imbalance since, as well as those requiring urgent treatment for other conditions.
‘We will be working through our backlog as efficiently as we can, while helping new patients referred to us who have presented with fresh symptoms and now require urgent attention.
‘Almost three months has passed since care had to be suspended and that’s a very long time for eye health issues to deteriorate or manifest, so we expect that we will see an upsurge in referrals from optometrists in the coming months.’
The UK Ophthalmology Alliance and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists have calculated that at least 10,000 people have missed out on care essential to maintaining their sight in England, Wales and Scotland during the pandemic.
One patient very happy to have his treatment resumed is amateur wildlife photographer John Lake, who was Newmedica’s first patient since reopening. The 76-year-old had been suffering with sight problems for several years due to a cataract in his left eye. His surgery was cancelled in March so he was delighted when he was informed that the Gloucester clinic was reopening and he could have his operation.
He said: ‘I had a cataract removed from my right eye five years ago and although I also had one in my left it wasn’t bad enough to remove at the time. However, over the last nine months my vision had got worse. I couldn’t read and I enjoy wildlife photography but my pictures were all off-centre. I’m also a carer for my wife and the only one in the household who can drive so it was important I got the problem sorted.’
He added: ‘My first appointment was, understandably, postponed due to the pandemic but then I received a phone call from Newmedica saying they were able to resume my treatment and asked if I could come in. I was delighted. Everyone was so friendly and professional and wearing full PPE. I was wearing a facemask too.
‘The surgery was so simple and painless. It only took 20 minutes but it has made a 100% improvement to my life. I can’t rate my experience highly enough and have been singing the team’s praises ever since.’
Safety remains paramount at Newmedica with new and enhanced safety measures in place.
A remote pre-screening pathway has been developed for patients to first discuss with a consultant their fitness to undergo an operation and the outcomes they can expect. All new referrals are also triaged remotely by a specialist optometrist and a consultant eye surgeon.
Before confirming treatment, all patients are questioned about their health and proximity to anyone who is confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19 before being asked to declare that they have self-isolated for 14 days before a procedure, in accordance with NHS guidance.
On the day of surgery, patients are asked to remain in their car until called into the clinic where they are met by the clinical team in full PPE.
All surgery carried out at Newmedica is performed by consultant eye surgeons supported by a specialist nursing team.
Specsavers made a major investment into a Partnership with Newmedica in 2016, to improve eye health services for patients in the community.
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