Rising cost of sending eye patients to UK

Tynwald buildings, Douglas

Tynwald buildings, Douglas

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Costs of transferring eye patients to the UK for assessment and treatment have risen 50 per cent in two years.

New Health and Social Care Minister Howard Quayle told Tynwald this was a situation that could not continue.

The 50 per cent increase in patient transfer costs was the result of a rise in the frequency of ophthalmic treatments, the court heard.

But the Minister said he was convinced that the majority of patients having to travel to Aintree in Liverpool would in any event be better served with an on-island service to treat Age Relative Macular Degeneration.

Mr Quayle said that the services provided by Aintree University Hospital were excellent with good clinical outcomes but he was becoming increasingly aware there were other service providers and delivery models that need to be examined.

Options to increase the availability of on-island treatment include increasing the frequency of visiting consultants and the use of telemedicine for diagnosis and routine reviews, he told the court.

He said: ‘I have made a promise that I will bring this service to the island and this I will do.

‘However, I must do this properly and with the help of the ophthalmic professionals who will ultimately be responsible for this service and the care of the patients. Some of these are already known to us but I am casting the net wider and this is taking time to progress.’

He added: ‘Given that I have made it known that this was a priority for the hospital, I have to admit I am concerned that matters are taking longer than I had anticipated to resolve.’

Mr Quayle stressed nothing would be done to prejudice the high quality treatment that island residents currently receive.

He said the use of telemedicine would be crucial to future service delivery.

But he said extra space would be needed for the new facility, either at Noble’s or Ramsey Cottage Hospital.

John Houghton (Douglas North) asked how much more time would be needed. ‘Poor elderly disabled patients are having to endure a whole day’s transportation to the UK. Some won’t go again to get their treatment. It’s getting really serious.’

Mr Quayle said he didn’t want to make any wild promises but he would hope by the early new year we would have the facility.

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