Glaucoma care crisis warning as Broomfield Hospital set to lose last specialist

Consultant ophthalmic surgeon Petros Andreou. Picture: THE CHELMSFORD PRIVATE DAY SURGERY HOSPITAL


A surgeon has warned a “drastic” lack of expertise in glaucoma treatment must be addressed as an Essex hospital’s last remaining specialist prepares to retire.

Consultant ophthalmologist Petros Andreou left Broomfield Hospital last year and his former colleague Peter Wishart is due to retire next month.

This will leave the Chelmsford hospital, run by Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust (MEHT), with no permanent glaucoma expert in post.

Glaucoma is a common eye condition, prominent among older people, and it can cause blindness if left untreated.

Surgeon Mr Andreou, who left the NHS after 25 years’ service in November to join The Chelmsford Private Day Surgery Hospital, said: “The situation is drastic, MEHT needs to find new experts in glaucoma and very quickly.

“Glaucoma is a condition that can deteriorate over time if not treated and managed properly and people suffering with it must have access to consultants with expertise when they need them.”

A shortage of NHS glaucoma specialists is a problem across the region, claims Mr Andreou, who spoke out in World Glaucoma Week.

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He added: “The acute lack of expertise in glaucoma treatment within the NHS must be treated and very soon, for the sake of many people.”

There are a number of different treatments for glaucoma, including eye drops, laser treatment and surgery.

John Williams, of Third Avenue, Broomfield, was diagnosed with the condition seven years ago and is receiving laser therapy at The Chelmsford.

The 59-year-old said: “I took the decision to go private because I was struggling to get an appointment at Broomfield Hospital.

“Some time ago I had waited for around nine months for a follow up appointment, but it wasn’t happening so I decided to take the bull by the horns, I had no choice.”

A spokesman for MEHT said: “Interviews for the two permanent glaucoma consultant posts are being held in early April. A locum consultant who specialises in glaucoma started with the trust on Monday to replace Mr Andreou, and there will be another locum appointment following Mr Wishart’s retirement until both posts are permanently filled.”

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