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Cataract referrals 'delayed'

Some cataract patients are being forced to wait longer for treatments by their GP practices, according to a report.

On average patients will have to wait an additional 15 weeks for NHS treatment after 20% of practices changed the criteria they use to refer cataract patients.

Most of the GPs questioned (85%) said that delaying this treatment has a negative effect on their patients' quality of life, but 27% of practices revealed that they will be postponing the point at which patients are referred to the NHS.

Under the new criteria each eye must reach a certain level before treatment can begin, leaving many with one eye being treated then having to wait months to go through the referral process for a second time.

Meanwhile, those who previously had 20:20 vision will not be eligible for treatment unless their eyesight has fallen to the minimum driving standard, the report revealed.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "Primary care trusts and GPs should ensure that the clinical needs of each patient are taken into account and they should not be delaying or introducing bans on access to treatment."

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