Mrs Skinner met a Leura-based specialist on Thursday, April 15 to discuss the regional demand for eye surgery and told the Gazette a short time later Katoomba Hospital has the capacity to help eye patients if funding was allocated.
“Katoomba Hospital has everything it needs — all the equipment and staff — to deliver cataract surgery, except the funding,”Mrs Skinner said.
“It’s not expensive to provide this service, it costs about $3000 per procedure and only takes 1.5 to two hours to do.
“The procedure is being done at Springwood Hospital, but has been reduced from 66 operations per year to just 27.
“It is a false economy not to provide this service to people who desperately need it.”
But the Sydney West Area Health Service said extra eye surgery sessions have commenced at Springwood and Lithgow hospitals to reduce planned surgery waiting times.
Given the high cost of specialised equipment for eye surgery, and to make the best use of public resources, the spokesperson said “it is most efficient to provide eye surgery in specialised centres”.
Mrs Skinner met two women outside Katoomba Hospital who need cataracts removed but had no idea when they will progress in the queue.
Eileen Connell had been on the waiting list for eye surgery since March 2009 to remove a cataract in one eye and said vision in her other eye is also poor. The Gazette understands she has since had her surgery booked for next week.
Single mother of four, Sharon Craufurd, was told two months ago by her doctor she requires eye surgery urgently, with deteriorating vision most likely related to liver failure she suffered in 2004.
“My doctor said I could be legally blind by the end of this year if nothing is done,” Sharon said.
“I got a letter yesterday saying I’m on a waiting list for another 12 months.”