FODO backs challenge to non-evidence based rationing of cataract care

The Medical Technology Group, a coalition of manufacturers, research charities and patient groups, has published a report based on an analysis of 195 Clinical Commissioning Groups and their listings of procedures of ‘low clinical value’. The study found that 104 of the 195 CCGs surveyed (53%) still restrict access to cataract surgery.

Following the new NICE guideline, NHS England’s Transforming Elective Care programme and views on cataract rationing expressed by then Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt, FODO had hoped that such attempts at back-door rationing were a thing of the past. Today’s study suggests this may not be the case.

Commenting FODO’s David Hewlett said: “These allegations will be as upsetting to front-line clinicians as they are to patients. Anyone who believes that cataract operations do not give people back their sight has clearly not read the evidence. We thought that non evidence-based rationing based on simple ‘visual acuities’ or ‘one eye only’ policies had been finally put to rest following the then Secretary of State’s personal intervention and the new NICE guideline in 2017. This is clearly not the case.

“The drive for efficiency is important and understood but it should not be at the expense of denying NHS patients the essential eyecare they need. Cataract surgery is readily available outside the NHS for those who can afford to pay, including a wider range of lens options. However this is not the way the NHS is supposed to treat vulnerable patients.

“The NHS urgently needs to expand capacity to meet need, not make patients suffer.”


Notes for Editors

FODO is the representative professional body for eye care providers and professionals across the UK and Ireland. We work with our members and stakeholders to improve access to high-quality eye care for everyone in the UK and Ireland.

You can find the NICE guideline here.

The Medical Technology Group findings are here.

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