Selecting a corneal surgeon within England’s National Health System

Selecting a corneal surgeon within England’s National Health System

When I was diagnosed with Fuchs Dystrophy I was given an appointment at my local NHS hospital in Portsmouth which was the Queen Alexandra Hospital.

I had a consultation with the corneal consultant Mr. Rakesh Jayaswal who confirmed that I needed a corneal transplant. Mr. Jayaswal told me that the procedure he used was thin DSAEK and that, as an NHS patient, the waiting time would about a year for surgery on my first eye and another year for surgery on my second eye.

I was then put on the waiting list for surgery. However, my vision was beginning to deteriorate and I decided to investigate other options which might mean I could have the surgery done earlier, even though Mr. Jayaswel had been very impressive.

I did extensive reading on the internet and found out as much as I could about the different types of corneal transplant surgeries. My conclusion was that I would prefer DMEK surgery to the DSEK and DSAEK alternatives. My internet reading told me that DMEK was much more dependant on surgical skill than the alternatives and that it was relatively new in the UK.

At this stage, I joined the Fuchs Friends website and looked for suitable recommendations. There were several surgeons that I saw highly recommended but one name seemed to occur more frequently than the others and that was Bruce Allan who was a surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. I also got a glowing reference for Mr. Allan from a person whose opinion I hold in high regard and a second one from a friend whose daughter was secretary for another surgeon at Moorfields.

At this point I decided to have a private consultation with Mr. Allan and went to see him at Moorfields. He told me that I should have surgery as soon as possible and that he would take me as an NHS patient with a timeframe of 3 months for the first transplant subject to him receiving a referral from my GP.

However, when I approached my GP, I was told that it was impossible to move from the Queen Alexandra in Portsmouth to Moorfields. I was told this was because of the problem of moving the budget cost from one place to another.

I then decided to search for NHS information on the internet and the NHS England website told me that I had the right to choose any hospital and/or surgeon in England to do the transplant surgery and I should have been told this before my first hospital appointment. I telephoned NHS England and this was confirmed but was told to telephone my area Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which is responsible for funding and budgets.

Again, it was confirmed I could make the choice to use Moorfields so I then informed my GP who then referred me to Mr. Allan at Moorfieds.

My first DMEK was done within 3 months of my referral and my second around 3 months later as I was given the chance to take a cancelled appointment at short notice.
I could not be happier with the results of my surgery nor the choice of Moorfields and Mr. Allan.

I've added a link which gives every possible detail for the choices of NHS patients in England. Patients in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have different systems and NHS England is the only service I have investigated.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-nhs-choice-framework/the-nhs-choice-framework-what-choices-are-available-to-me-in-the-nhs