A brand new state-of-the art £6.7 million eye centre has opened its doors to patients. The new purpose-built centre, which is located at the Northern General Hospital and follows a multi-million pound investment from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is set to transform care for thousands of patients needing surgery to treat cataracts, which commonly affect older people and are the leading cause of impaired vision throughout the world.
It is estimated that over half of all people aged 65 and over have some cataract development in one or both eyes. Offering some of the best ophthalmic assessment and surgical facilities in the UK, the new Northern General Eye Centre is the first of its kind cataract treatment centre, providing care for more than 5000 patients across the Sheffield and South Yorkshire region in spacious and accessible surroundings.
The facility – which has been designed with the needs of people with limited vision in mind – has 10 consulting rooms, world-class diagnostic equipment, two hi-tech operating rooms, a large reception area, dedicated drop off and pick up points outside the centre, and self check-ins enabling patients to notify staff of their arrival in a matter of seconds.
As a dedicated centre for cataract surgery, patients visiting for assessment and treatment of cataracts will benefit from a unique ‘one-stop approach’. This will mean that they will now be able to have their outpatient consultation, all diagnostic tests, pre-operative assessments and consent for surgery process completed in just one visit, saving unnecessary repeat trips prior to surgery.
If patients are fit for local anaesthetic cataract surgery they will be given a date for their operation before they leave. On the day of surgery, patients will be seen by the same consultant they saw at their outpatient appointment and a named nurse will stay with them to ‘hold their hand’ during surgery. Patients often feel nervous prior to having eye surgery, and research shows that having a named nurse to accompany them through the operation decreases anxiety and offers comfort during the procedure. Refreshments will also be provided to patients after surgery.
All patients returning for post-operative check-ups will be able to see their consultant if necessary and agree a date for surgery in their other eye if this is needed.
Dalip Malkani, 78, of Bradway, is one of the first patients in the region to benefit from life-changing cataract surgery at the brand new eye centre. “My vision is much improved in that eye and the overall quality of my vision is much better than before,” said the IT consultant who first started to get a cloudiness in his vision a year ago and was diagnosed with a cataract in his right eye.
“The staff have been marvellous, they’ve taken really good care of me and kept me informed throughout, and I can see things much more clearly now. My TV looks like it has much higher resolution than it did before. I am very fortunate to be in Sheffield and have world renowned eye specialists.”
Carolyn Wilkie, operations director for Head and Neck services at Sheffield Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted to be opening this state-of-the-art £6.7m facility which will benefit thousands of patients in the region both now and in the future. Having cataract surgery can be a daunting experience, so a huge amount of planning has gone into the design and set-up of this building to ensure that every detail, from patients being able to have a named nurse to hold their hand throughout surgery to patients being collected from reception and taken to the consulting rooms rather than being called in by the doctor or nurse, improves and enhances the patients’ experience.
“The £6.7 m building is a fantastic investment by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and not only will patients experience an extremely high standard of care and have as much done in one appointment as possible to avoid unnecessary trips, but by opening up this facility we will be able to build our services in the future and ensure that we meet the increasing demand for cataract eye surgery.”
Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed operation in the UK, with around 330,000 operations performed each year on the NHS. During surgery the lens inside the eye that has become cloudy is removed and replaced with an artificial lens to restore clear vision. If untreated, the clouding can worsen, making driving and working difficult, and in some cases, causing complete blindness.