Up to 260 UK patients per year experience vision loss because of healthcare delays

16th Jan 2020

Claim

Each month 22 NHS patients with glaucoma unnecessarily lose their sight due to NHS treatment delays.

Conclusion

Researchers estimate up to 22 patients per month in the UK experience vision deterioration due to health service delays, but not all from glaucoma.

“At least 260 patients a year lose their sight due to lengthy treatment delays”

“When it comes to glaucoma alone, 22 patients a month unnecessarily lose their sight”

The Daily Express (print edition), 9 January 2020

The Daily Express reported that 22 glaucoma patients each month lose their sight due to delays in the NHS.

This isn’t quite right.

The figure comes from a 2017 research paper which found that up to 22 cases of vision loss a month may be attributed to health service delays — but not all of these are due to glaucoma.

The study used patient information collected through a reporting system for ophthalmologists in the UK. Between March 2015 and February 2016, 238 cases where patients had experienced deterioration in vision due to a delay in review or treatment were reported.

To get further information, the researchers contacted the ophthalmologists who had reported these cases. After excluding non-responses, duplicate and irrelevant records, 169 patient cases were included in the study. Of the 169 patients included, 42% had a main diagnoses of glaucoma.

This reporting system did not cover all ophthalmologists in the UK, and as such the researchers estimated that there could be as many as 260 such cases a year (or between 15 and 22 a month).