Cruel rationing of vital cataract surgery has doubled since NHS officials were ordered to stop patients from refusing surgery, a shocking report has revealed.
At least 2,851 people were refused for cataract surgery in 2018/19 after their doctor referred them for the procedure, according to figures published in the British Medical Journal.
Amazingly, the number of refusals has doubled since the official publication of the NHS watchdog NICE in October 2017 had to put an end to the fact that people were being denied the operations.
In 2017/18, approximately 1,825 patients were rejected for the procedure and 1,301 were rejected in 2016/17, according to the Freedom of Information responses of 185 of the 195 clinical commissioning groups (CCG & # 39; s) in England.
At least 2,851 people were refused for cataract surgery in 2018/19 after their doctor referred them for the procedure
Even this is probably a significant underestimation of the number of patients who miss out on the procedure, because only those who are referred by their doctors but subsequently rejected are taken into account.
In the first place, the operation will probably never be offered much more.
Experts said that there is & # 39; no justification & # 39; was to deny patients the procedure and described rationing as & # 39; a false economy & # 39 ;.
Mike Burdon, president of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, said: & I think it is offensive to our elderly patients that this rationing is underway.
& # 39; It is not justified how you look at it. & # 39;
The Daily Mail has been campaigning for the NHS for three years to stop denying patients surgery, which only costs £ 1,000 and only takes 30 minutes.
A cataract occurs when the lens becomes cloudy as age progresses, causing blurred vision and vision problems.
The 2017 NICE guidance instruction relies on offering surgery as soon as a patient's quality of life is reduced, if their doctor thought it would benefit them.
The counseling was ordered by former Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, after the Daily Mail Save Our Sight campaign exposed cruelty to patients who received surgery based on where they lived.
But because the rules are not legally binding, cash-strapped CCG's can decide to ignore them if they want to.
WHAT ARE CATARACATES?
The queen had an eye problem in 2016, leaving one shed
Stare occurs when the lens – a small transparent disk in the eye that helps to focus light – becomes cloudy.
The patches gradually increase over time, according to the NHS, and can lead to blurred vision and, in some cases, blindness.
Cataract affects around half of the over-65s in the UK. About 24 million adults over 40 in the US suffer, according to figures.
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists warned last year that, due to a rapidly aging population, the number of cataract operations required is expected to increase by 50 percent over the next 20 years.
But in his new book & # 39; The complete patient manual for cataract operations & # 39; the leading eye surgeon David Allamby claimed that there simply aren't enough specialists to cope with rising demand.
He said that around 1,300 NHS surgeons perform 389,000 operations per year. In 2035, however, more than 2,000 physicians are needed to complete approximately 583,500 procedures per year.
People are more at risk if they: have diabetes, have an eye injury, take certain medicines or have other eye conditions.
Symptoms normally develop very slowly and are more sensitive to light and think that everything looks.
Cataracts can be surgically removed and replaced with an artificial lens. No other treatment is available.
The Mail has long campaigned against the current unfair operation system in the UK, which was a zip code lottery until the health watchdog issued guidelines last August to address the problem, which had led many patients to the uncomplicated 30-minute operations were denied.
Experts say, however, that it is totally unfair to disregard the advice – which is meant to set the best options for the patient himself.
Mr Burdon said: "What is the point of NICE conducting detailed evaluations if CCGs knowingly and ignore that advice?"
& # 39; The healthcare budget is limited, but you must make spending decisions based on clinical evidence.
& # 39; Cataract surgery emerges as probably the most cost-effective thing in the NHS. & # 39;
The BMJ investigation revealed to save money. Officials are increasingly proposing a threshold for & # 39; visual acuity & # 39; in, for example, if a patient is only considered for surgery if he scores less than six out of twelve for vision.
This also contradicts the guidelines, which specifically state that access to cataract operations should not be limited based on how bad a person's eyesight is, but rather how it affects his life.
The report found that 22 percent of the total number of cataract operations in England were screened in advance by such tests, three times as many as in 2016/17, when only 7 percent were screened.
Thanks to the shocking tactics, CCG & # 39; s, who decide how to spend NHS budgets in their local areas, can refuse to refer patients for life-changing surgery unless their vision is considered to be sufficiently weak.
It comes after the Mail revealed in March that half of the CCG has placed & # 39; s cataract operations on a list of & # 39; limited clinical value procedures & # 39; – A field expert said that a major misuse of the lists is meant to be used for questionable procedures such as homeopathy and tattoo removal.
Up to half of the over-65s – 4.5 million people in England – have a certain amount of cataract growth.
But the NHS only performs 400,000 corrective operations per year, leaving many behind.
Nicholas Wilson-Holt, ophthalmologist consultant at Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust and former member of the NICE guideline committee, said the process of prior approval serves as a barrier and not in the spirit of the recommendations.
He added: & # 39; The evidence was clear that cataract surgery should not be rationed in this way.
& # 39; Much effort has been put into producing guidance and it is a shame for patients that it is not being followed.
& # 39; It is such an effective procedure and has the ability to change the quality of life of a patient. & # 39;
He added: & # 39; It makes people question the value of having NICE guidance if we have an & # 39; pick and mix & # 39; approach choose the areas that we adopt. & # 39;
But Graham Jackson, co-chair of the NHS Clinical Commissioners, who represents CCG & # 39; s, said: & # 39; Unfortunately, the NHS does not have unlimited resources and ensures that patients receive the best possible care and outcomes against the background of spiraling. increasing demands, competing priorities and increasing financial pressure is one of the biggest problems CCG & # 39; s face.
& # 39; Cataract surgery is specifically an area that often requires prior approval.
& # 39; Such clinical decisions are crucial to deciding when a patient has reached the stage that surgery is the best option. & # 39;
But a Ministry of Health spokesperson said: & Commissioners should take into account the latest NICE guidelines to ensure fair and consistent access to the best possible treatment for all cataract patients. & # 39;
How to protect your vision against cataracts
Get regular eye checks
Blurred vision, halo & # 39; s and light sensitivity may not appear until cataract is well developed. So look every two years and annually after the age of 60. If they notice one, your optician can refer you to an NHS specialist. Private clinics offer surgery for between £ 2,000 and £ 4,000 per eye. The NHS performs more than 400,000 such operations per year.
Ophthalmologist Professor David Gartry says: & # 39; Cataract surgery is a safe procedure that can achieve dramatic improvement when cataract is sufficiently advanced to seriously affect vision and affect quality of life. & # 39;
Blurred vision, halo & # 39; s and light sensitivity may not appear until cataract is well developed. So every two years and annually after the age of 60 an eye check
Enjoy green vegetables
Eat lots of dark green leafy vegetables, because they contain antioxidants that can combat stress that damages the cells in lens tissue. & # 39; When the symptoms first appear, you can improve your vision for a while with new glasses or stronger exposure, but your vision will gradually deteriorate & # 39 ;, says Prof Gartry.
Know the warning signs
One of the most common types of cataract is called nuclear and starts in the center of the lens. & # 39; An early sign of this is when a patient becomes short-sighted after years of a fixed prescription & # 39 ;, says Prof. Gartry. & # 39; That is because the lens core focuses the light more when it contains a cataract. & # 39;
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