The Macular Society has delivered its petition to end needless sight loss to Number 10 Downing Street.
The petition, which reached 11,000 signatures, was handed over by Macular Society volunteers Chris Thorley and Elaine Shaw.
Chris, who has myopic CNV, was forced to invade the headquarters of his local healthcare commissioners when he experienced delays to treatment.
He had waited more than nine months for urgent treatment. Although he is now receiving treatment, he will never regain the sight he has lost while he waited.
The petition calls on the Department of Health to prioritise eye health and put a stop to these unnecessary delays, which lead to needless sight loss.
Cathy Yelf, chief executive of the Macular Society, has recently written to health secretary Jeremy Hunt and the chief executives of NICE and NHS England about Chris Thorley’s situation.
She said: “It is very distressing for patients to be in this position and, of course, when patients go untreated for many months they inevitably suffer irreversible sight loss.”
Many more people told us that they’d experienced something similar to Chris, including Elaine Shaw who also has myopic CNV. Elaine was refused an alternative treatment when the one she was receiving stopped working.
Elaine said: “I felt absolute shock and disbelief. The implications are that if they stop treating you, you will lose your sight.”
In the petition many people shared their own stories of delays, poor treatment and lack of communication.
Cathy added: “Day after day we hear of shocking variation in the quality of care offered to people with macular disease. NHS eye clinics are overwhelmed but there are numerous ways in which services may be improved, clinically, holistically, and indeed, financially. What is required, above all, is direct and accountable leadership, with the authority to intervene at both local and national level, across providers, commissioners and indeed, NHS England.”
The Macular Society has called for the urgent appointment of an eye-health commissioner, able to lead ophthalmologists, optometrists and the wider NHS eye-service so all patients receive the highest level of care, and taxpayers receive value for money in the service that is provided.