Elaine Hanby was put on a waiting list for cataract surgery in August but was told she could wait up to 18 months just to see a consultant.
A widow has been offered NHS cash to go abroad for an eye op because a Scots health board can’t provide the treatment fast enough.
Elaine Hanby was put on a waiting list for cataract surgery in August.
But she was told she could wait up to 18 months to see a consultant – and then have to go on another waiting list for the op.
The Government’s own target says 95 per cent of patients should start treatment within 18 weeks of a GP referral.
Elaine, 48, has had cataract problems in one eye for around three years and in August, her optician referred her for surgery.
But Highland Health Board warned her she could face a long wait and instead sent her forms to enable her to have the operation done in Europe.
Elaine told of her shock at the offer yesterday, saying: “It makes me mad that I can take the money to go abroad but can’t have the operation here.
“Surely it cannot be economically viable to give money to hospitals abroad to get people off the waiting lists.”
Elaine, from Nairn, contacted her health board in December to ask if she could have her surgery at the Golden Jubilee hospital in Clydebank, where many minor ops are carried out – but she was told by the appointments secretary that the hospital was no longer being considered for such operations.
Elaine was told she could wait more than a year to see a consultant and would then join another waiting list for the operation itself.
At that point she was offered the chance to go abroad for surgery, with the NHS picking up the bill and Elaine paying for travel and other expenses.
Former NHS staffing officer Elaine now chairs the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Widows Association, which involves her driving all over the country – and with impaired vision, she is struggling to do her job.
She said: “Friends who are police officers have advised me against driving at night. If I was in an accident, questions would be asked.
“Older people waiting on cataract operations have different problems but for me it is driving to work which is affecting me most.
“When I spoke to the lady at Raigmore, she was very curt and told me I wasn’t even on the list for the operation.
“I asked about cancellations but she said I wouldn’t get one unless I was at the top of the list.
“She said there was a 12 to 18-month wait for a consultant’s appointment and then I would have to go on another list for the operation itself.
“And she wouldn’t even discuss how long the second waiting list is.”
Elaine added: “Cataract surgery only takes about 15 minutes. I could easily pop down to the Golden Jubilee but I was told that is no longer a possibility.
“However, under the European directive I can take the money it would cost for the op – about £925 – and use it in a country like Spain, France or Germany.
“The woman I spoke to said they would be happy for me to do this because it would remove me from the waiting list.”
Scottish Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar said last night: “It is utterly unacceptable that Elaine is faced with another year to wait for an operation because our health service cannot cope.
“No patient should have to consider travelling across the EU for routine NHS treatment.”
NHS Highland said: “We are sorry the patient is unhappy. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with her directly.”
A Holyrood spokesman added: “We will be seeking further detail from NHS Highland to get clarity on the handling of this case.”
Link : Daily Record.