Staff shortage blamed for eye clinic shame

Blackpool Victoria Hospital

Blackpool Victoria Hospital

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Staff sickness and the departure of a consultant were to blame for more than 12,000 cancelled eye clinic appointments, Blackpool Victoria Hospital bosses have claimed.

The explanation came after Fylde MP Mark Menzies described the number of cancelled appointments – more than 15 per cent of all made – as ‘embarrassing’.

“There are a number of reasons why appointments have been cancelled including staff sickness and the departure of a consultant,” the trust said in a statement.

“Clinics that were cancelled have been reinstated later in the year to accommodate a new consultant at the trust. The aim is that all cancelled appointments are rearranged within eight weeks of cancellation.”

Mr Menzies said he wrote to the Trust asking why 6,524 appointments were scrapped in Blackpool, as well as 5,621 in Wyre and Fylde.

He added: “What we have here in Fylde and Blackpool is off the scale. It is shocking just how bad the situation is and it must improve. South Manchester has a cancellation rate of 0.08 per cent, and Liverpool, 3.6 per cent.

“It’s a serious issue and something is going wrong. We are talking about people potentially losing their sight because appointments are being cancelled again and again.”

The area’s two clinical commissioning groups, which organise and pay for treatment, said in a joint statement: “We recognise there is an issue with regard to cancelled appointments for eye clinics at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.”