GPs warned over private eye care linked to sight loss

GPs have been warned that poor follow-up care at a local eye clinic could have resulted in patients losing their sight.

Slit lamp eye examination (Photo: SPL)
Slit lamp eye examination (Photo: SPL)

Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire LMC chief executive Dr Peter Graves emailed local GPs informing them of concerns about Clinicenta, an ophthalmology provider at the Lister Hospital Surgicentre in Stevenage.

The concerns had been raised by the Local Optometric Committee (LOC), which represents local Optometrists, in a letter to chief executive of NHS Hertfordshire Jane Halpin.

The LOC said it believed some Clinicenta patients had failed to receive follow-up consultations, which may have resulted in ‘irreversible sight-loss’.

Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire LMC chair Dr Jeremy Cox said: ‘We felt this was of sufficient concern that we should inform our local GPs of what was going on.’

The email did not instruct GPs to stop referring to the clinic but reminded them of their duty not to refer patients to a service ‘for which they have reasonable and genuine concerns that the quality is sub-standard'.

The LMC also advised GPs to consider whether any patients who had been treated by Clinicenta might need a re-referral elsewhere.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said the LMC must have had serious concerns about Clinicenta to take the unusual step of informing GPs. ‘It doesn’t happen very often at all,’ Dr Vautrey said.

Responding to the concerns, Clinicenta said: ‘Since opening, ophthalmology patient volumes have exceeded the levels commissioned with the current service performing at over 120% of anticipated levels.

'Despite these activity levels a number of patients have experienced delays to follow-up appointments. To address this, additional clinics have been organised and an additional 2,400 appointments have been scheduled prior to the end of August.

'This is a service that has been under pressure for some considerable time and we are keen to work with the PCTs, GPs and opticians to manage capacity and demand in the most appropriate way for the patients of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.’

Read the full response from Clinicenta here.

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