The Scottish Conservatives have said the SNP must investigate if other health boards across Scotland have been treating private “non urgent” eye cases on hospital grounds while overlooking NHS patient procedures.
Thousands of patients with serious sight-threatening eye conditions, including glaucoma and macular disease, are being managed only by telephone and video consultations while those who are private are being given preferential treatment in clinics or theatres on NHS Ayrshire and Arran premises.
The Herald has evidence of at least three private patients being seen during the pandemic at University Hospital Ayr, with one seen in the last couple of weeks.
It reports around 2,000 new referrals are on the waiting list to be seen by ophthalmologists at Ayr and also Crosshouse in Kilmarnock.
There are some 5,000 patients with conditions including, diabetic retinopathy and macular disease who are being managed almost entirely by phone, though the safe management of those conditions is said to be dependent on vision and pressure measurements. Some are said to be more than a year late for a review date set by a consultant.
Scottish Conservative public health spokesman Brian Whittle has called on the SNP to investigate if these issues are happening at other health boards across Scotland and not just at NHS Ayrshire and Arran.
He said: “It’s completely unacceptable for patients to be cut-off from NHS services while those who are private get preferential treatment.
“The SNP’s disgraceful attitude towards patient waiting lists is once again evident here at a time where many already feel vulnerable due to the pandemic.
“Patients deserve answers to this and the Scottish Government must carry out a full investigation to identify if this is happening at other health boards across Scotland.
“Clinicians should not be placed in the scenario of sacrificing NHS patients by seeing private patients instead of them – it’s an appalling situation to be left in.
“This is another example, similar to NHS dentistry services, where patients are being neglected because of chronic underfunding leading to huge waiting lists in the sector.”
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