Doctor warns of issues at Stevenage Surgicentre

PATIENTS have been left to go blind after failures at the privately-run Surgicentre at Lister Hospital meant follow-up consultations did not take place, it has been claimed.

In an unprecedented move, a top doctor has written to all GPs across the county advising them to think twice before referring patients to the eye department.

Dr Peter Graves, chief executive of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire local medical committee, wrote the email stating “significant and worrying concerns” had been highlighted over the last nine months.

It read: “In April, the Local Optometric Committee sent a strongly worded letter to Jane Halpin, chief executive of NHS Hertfordshire, expressing their concerns and highlighting they believe some patients, who should have had follow-up consultations since the change of service to the Clinicenta service but have failed to get this, may have irreversible sight loss, which should have been prevented.”

Although not directly telling family doctors to stop referring patients to the Stevenage centre, it reminded them of their duty of care not to “refer patients to a service for which they have reasonable and genuine concerns”.

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland echoed the LMC stance and said he was not surprised by its decision.

He said: “The problem is accessing the treatments and follow-up appointments as Clinicenta Carillion have demonstrated they are just not up to the job.

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“It’s no secret I believe they are failing my constituents and I’m not prepared to accept this.

“Last week I met with the chief executive of Carillion Plc which own and manage the Surgicentre and told them very clearly they had lost the confidence of both the community and medical professionals.”

A spokesman for Carillion said: “We take all issues raised by the LMC extremely seriously and we’re eager to work with them to understand and address their concerns fully.

“Patient care is always most effective under a collaborative approach between primary and secondary care providers, and we’re committed to working closely with all medical partners to continually develop and improve the level of patient care.”

He added: “Patients are our priority and this is why in February this year we wrote to patients that were under the care of the Lister Surgicentre for ophthalmology and asked them to make contact with us if they had any concerns.”