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More cataract buses to travel north as waiting times worsen

June 25th, 2019 11:50 AM

By Jackie Keogh

The woman who travelled to Belfast only to find her cataracts condition was inoperable leaves to face a long journey home to the south-west.

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A WOMAN who travelled 1,000km, from West Cork to Belfast, for a cataract operation was told her condition was too far gone and was inoperable.

The lady in her eighties had been on the public waiting list for number of years and she now faces an uphill struggle to save her sight emerged.

Her plight comes as figures released by optometrists show some patients in West Cork are waiting even longer than the national average of five years for the straight forward procedure.Last Sunday (June 16th) a surgeon at the Kingsbridge Private Hospital in Belfast delivered the bad news to the woman after she had made the journey from home on one of the local cataract buses organised by Goleen man, independent TD Michael Collins.

Deputy Collins said it made him both ‘angry and sad’ that the woman was unable to have the 15-minute procedure.

The independent TD, who met with optometrists in Dublin last week, expressed concern about the waiting times for the procedure under the Irish healthcare system saying: ‘It is getting worse.’

In December 2017, Deputy Collins and Kerry’s Danny Healy Rae organised the first of 35 cataract buses to bring patients to Belfast for surgery.

The independent TD said they felt compelled to organise the 1,000km round-trip, which departs from Bantry in the early hours of Saturday morning and makes the return trip on Sunday, the day the patients have had their surgery.

Deputy Collins blamed ‘Government inaction’ for the situation and vowed to increase the number of cataract buses travelling north to three per month.

‘Most of the people on these buses,’ he said, ‘are in their 80s or 90s, but they still make the journey because it is the only thing that will stop them from going blind. These people have no voice. No one in Government seems to be interested in solving this crisis.’ 

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