Patients still not able to use town's eye unit

By Dan Santy Friday 09 November 2012 Updated: 15/11 09:21

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Buy photos » Vivian Branston who is angry patients in Rugby cannot use the £2 million Macular Unit at St Cross Hospital nearly two years on from its opening. 45.012.018.rug.jm1 (www.buyphotos247.com)

NEARLY two years since the grand opening of Rugby's £2 million eye unit, patients in the borough are still asking why they cannot use it.

St Cross's state-of-the-art Macular Unit was unveiled in January 2011 to considerable fanfare, with health chiefs hailing it as a sure sign Rugby's hospital was here to stay.

But it soon emerged patients in Rugby could not even use a facility on their own doorstep because of an outstanding contract NHS Warwickshire had with South Warwickshire Foundation Trust (SWFT) at Warwick Hospital.

At the time, patients, opticians and councillors contacted the Observer to express frustration at the situation - which was supposed to be reviewed in the past year.

But still with no change, and no mobile macular unit coming from Warwick to Rugby as was previously suggested, elderly patients like 87-year-old Vivian Branston have been growing increasingly annoyed.

The Constable Road resident needs an injection in her eyes every four weeks to treat age related macular degeneration, but with her bad eyesight and husband Dan having Parkinson's, she has to rely on her grandson's wife to take her to Warwick each month.

She told the Observer: "I do appreciate Warwick used to be the nearest for macular treatment, but now we have one opened in our own town nearly two years ago and I'm still going to Warwick.

"I just don't understand it. I'm 87 and my eyesight isn't good, and my husband has Parkinson's, so we can't drive over there ourselves and have to rely on other people.

"If you have your own transport it would still be an inconvenience, but if you don't it's terrible.

Each appointment usually takes between two and three hours including travelling time, putting a strain on her grandson's wife who also has two young children to look after.

"It isn't easy, and it's an ongoing, life-long problem which needs treating every four weeks," added Mrs Branston.

"I always feel worried about it. It's very stressful which is not want you want at the end of your life.

"I know it all comes down to money, but they do sometimes forget about the people who are affected."

Coun Jerry Roodhouse has called for the situation to be addressed immediately, with the contract with SWFT set to run until the end of next March.

"This needs to be resolved and has been going on for too long," he said.

"I have been contacted by other people who have to go to Warwick whilst people from Bulkington and Coventry come to Rugby.

"We shall be persuing this matter. South Warwickshire Foundation Trust has talked about a mobile unit and, if so, why is this lady still having to travel?"

Jayne Blacklay, director of development for SWFT, said the mobile unit idea was 'not feasible' but added providing treatment in different areas was being looked at over the next few months.

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