Stop referring eye patients to Surgicentre – PCT tells GPs

FAMILY doctors have been told to stop referring ophthalmology patients to the Surgicentre in Stevenage, by the body which controls NHS cash across the county.

The move by NHS Hertfordshire, the primary care trust, comes just weeks after the Comet’s story which revealed top doctor Peter Graves advised his colleagues to take this controversial step.

Dr Graves, chief executive of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire local medical committee, said “significant and worrying concerns” had been highlighted at the Surgicentre, which is run by Clinicenta on the Lister Hospital site, with some patients suffering irreversible sight-loss due to follow-up consultations not taking place.

Lesley Watts, deputy chief executive at NHS Hertfordshire, said: “We’re concerned Clinicenta are unable to provide us with the necessary assurance about waiting times for outpatient and routine surgical procedures.

“In order to minimise the time patients wait for an appointment, as an interim measure, we have asked GPs to refer new patients into ophthalmology services at alternative local providers.

“We will closely monitor the situation over the coming weeks and will continue to work closely with Clinicenta to gain the assurance we need about the timely treatment of our patients.”

She added: “We’ve taken this step as a temporary measure and want to reassure patients, we are not concerned about the quality of services at the Surgicentre, but we have a duty to reduce the current long waiting times and to minimise inconvenience to patients.

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“The measures being taken affect routine, or elective, patients. Those requiring follow-up appointments, urgent treatment and diabetic retinopathy will continue to be seen by Clinicenta.”