A NORTH Ceredigion eye patient has questioned the allocation of specialist scanners after health chiefs admitted moving one from Bronglais Hospital to the North Road clinic in Aberystwyth.
The Cambrian News reported “While Hywel Dda Health Board has insisted it is looking to improve eye care services in Aberystwyth, patient Steven Palmer said he still had concerns over the organisation of services.
And he said he believed the scanner now in place at the hospital was inferior to the scanner that had been transferred.
Mr Palmer, who needs regular check ups as part of his condition, said he would welcome any improvements to services after initially fearing that the specialist OCT scanner had been moved out of Ceredigion altogether.
But he said the health board’s handling of services was “very confusing”.
Mr Palmer said: “On the positive side they seem to be saying they are going to expand the facilities at North Road and they imply the sophisticated scanner has been moved there, remaining in Ceredigion, although this wasn’t the impression I was given, but I’m glad to be wrong.
“However, their reply is confusing.
“Despite what they say the ‘new scanner’ at Bronglais is a replacement, not an addition and is not as sophisticated as the Heidelberg scanner.
“So that feels like a degradation in service at Bronglais, not an improvement.
“As they were buying a new machine, why did they not just buy a new Heidelberg instead of a lesser model?
“They could have kept all the scanning history at Bronglais for those that are only seen there and used the new scanner directly at North Road.
“Would it make more sense to have the more sophisticated scanner at the hospital where the IVT injections are given?”
Joe Teape, the director of operations and deputy chief executive of the health board, said that efforts were being made to improve services and that had seen a scanner moved from Bronglais.
He said: “As part of service improvements to the medical retinal service in Ceredigion we have arranged to add a new OCT machine at Bronglais Hospital to better support clinical decisions for patients receiving treatments there.
“The second Heidelberg machine has been moved to our specialist eye centre at North Road clinic to increase the number of patients who can be seen by the service.
“All of our remaining sites where patients receive IVT injections have access to a Topcon OCT; this machine is very modern and can be networked across multiple sites, for example, patients could have their examinations in Ceredigion and have their results viewed by a consultant in Carmarthenshire or further afield, ensuring that patients can always be reviewed and supported by specialists within the Hywel Dda area, or across the wider NHS in Wales should complications arise.
“Additional OCT machines are available in Aberaeron Hospital and we are currently looking at returning an additional machine to Cardigan Hospital to recommence services there.
“Having a second machine at Bronglais will allow us to increase capacity and see more patients within their appointed treatment timescale.
“We are confident the additions to our existing equipment will deliver high quality care for our patients with age-related macular degeneration who require regular monitoring and treatment.
“Work will also be starting shortly to increase capacity at North Road clinic so that we can see more patients closer to their homes” here.