NHS Taken To Task Over Eye Tests In Scilly
It follows a survey by Healthwatch this summer in which 60% of people rated optometry services in Scilly as ‘poor.’
In June 2013, a special room was fitted out at the Health Centre on St Mary’s, complete with the necessary equipment for performing eye tests on the islands.
That meant people didn’t have to travel to the mainland for the service.
But just over a year later, Penzance-based Reynolds Opticians, who were providing the service, pulled out of the contract because they’d lost money on the work.
Chairman of the Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Gordon Bilsborough, said he knew from personal experience that it could take at least four weeks to get an appointment. He wanted to know whether that was likely to get better in the future.
But in a letter written to the committee, Janet Newport from NHS England, who are responsible for providing the service, said she wasn’t aware of any problems.
That was disputed by Healthwatch’s Carol Clarke, who said she had repeatedly brought this to the attention of the NHS, including six times since February this year.
Janet then blamed restructuring in the NHS, which meant the reports hadn’t been getting to the right person.
Dr John Garman from the Health Centre said demand for eye tests had outstripped their initial estimates.
The NHS had originally intended to provide two days of optometry services every two months, but that had now been doubled to four days.
John said there had been an improvement recently, and waiting times were reducing, but there was still work to be done.
Janet promised councillors that she would now deal with this matter and make sure the right provision was in place for residents in Scilly.