Private or NHS for Contact Lenses

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vr1nder_d
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Re: Private or NHS for Contact Lenses

Postby vr1nder_d » Mon 12 Apr 2010 5:37 pm

Hi, can't really provide advice as I am just at the start of my own experience. However having to wait 8 weeks for a hospital appointment on NHS is probably one of the downsides I have already noticed...

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GarethB
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Re: Private or NHS for Contact Lenses

Postby GarethB » Mon 12 Apr 2010 8:34 pm

In my area once in the NHS system the waiting times haven't been too long at all. The main delay is getting into the system to start with.
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Lia Williams
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Re: Private or NHS for Contact Lenses

Postby Lia Williams » Sat 17 Apr 2010 9:24 pm

Ah the EIGHT week wait for the appointment can be infuriating.

Back in November I was prescribed some new lenses which were minor tweaks to the previous pair. I was amazed and delighted when the new lenses arrived a week later. However the right lens was a disappointment; it no longer had the vision of the old lens at a distance. By manoeuvring my head while looking at an object I could find a part of the lens with good vision but with a blink the vision would go. I wore the lens for a couple of weeks and couldn’t get used to it. After playing with reading glasses and binoculars I was fairly sure that it was power problem (although it had the same power as the previous one). So I phoned the hospital for an earlier appointment as my next check up would not have been until May.

TEN weeks later I went for this earlier appointment. Ten days before the appointment I started to wear the new right lens again so that the clinic could accurately assess how this lens fitted. At the clinic I explained my problem with the right lens and the fit and sight of each lens was assessed. The right lens fitted well but the left one did not so it was decided to try a different lens design – for both eyes. As the lenses are a totally different design an appointment was made for EIGHT weeks later to collect them. I should have been collecting these new lenses next week.

On Friday I phoned the hospital to check that the lenses were ready. They’re not. There had been an administrative error and hadn’t been ordered and there are no new appointments for EIGHT weeks. Another administrative error has meant that I should get them in FIVE weeks as my May appointment was still on file.

So 10 + 8 + 5 = 23 weeks after contacting the hospital explaining that my right lens was not right I should get a replacement.

Lia

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Re: Private or NHS for Contact Lenses

Postby Andrew MacLean » Sun 18 Apr 2010 7:59 am

Lia

That really is an unacceptable delay. Have they given you any reasons?

All the best

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Lia Williams
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Re: Private or NHS for Contact Lenses

Postby Lia Williams » Sun 18 Apr 2010 9:06 am

Andrew,

The optometrist had ordered the lenses on the computer but some additional piece of paper from her was missing. Why a piece paper was required when the computer system must have an electronic signature I do not know! It might have been something to do with payment. I’m not paying for the lenses as it is within 12 months of my last payment but I’m also not paying postage as I’m to collect them. There was a flag on the system saying there was a problem but presumably it didn’t flag either me or the optometrist to indicate there was a problem.

There is a lack of appointments generally and two months between appointments is probably OK in most circumstances. One can ask for an ‘urgent review’, which this isn’t. Or in an emergency go to A&E. This I did a few years ago when my right eye just wouldn’t tolerate a lens no matter what I did. I could possibly have gone three weeks ago to collect the lenses but because of my holidays and the optometrist‘s I had preferred to wait to see her rather than someone else. That said one can’t actually book an appointment to see the same person but as this particular optometrist has been trying to sort me out since last April I hope she’s there in May. She did however ask me to check that the lens had been received from the manufacturer as they normally take about four weeks, I nearly didn’t check with hospital on Friday as after eight weeks I didn’t really expect them to not have arrived.

Lia

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GarethB
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Re: Private or NHS for Contact Lenses

Postby GarethB » Sun 18 Apr 2010 10:28 am

Not only are the differences between how NHS systems are run between England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland, within England olone there are further differences between Primary Care Trusts.

Basically there appears to be little or no consistency between hospitals. Andrw and I are fortunate in that we are well supported by our respectibe hospitals.
Gareth

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Re: Private or NHS for Contact Lenses

Postby Andrew MacLean » Sun 18 Apr 2010 1:04 pm

Gareth is right: he and I are fortunate to attend excellent hospital clinics. When I lived in Aberdeen, I attended a high street optometrist who held the hospital contract; again the service was excellent.

I know of others who are not nearly so well served and I do understand that the English NHS offers a service that is so patchy that some have described it as a post code lottery.

Of course, it is also true that the High Street does not offer a uniformly excellent service to people with keratoconus. There are a couple of practices in the Glasgow area whom I would recommend without hesitation: some independent and others part of optometry or pharmacy chains.

I guess that the key is the size of population served by clinic or optometrist. Over 2,000,000 people live in easy travelling distance of Gartnavel Hospital. In a population that size there will be a healthy number if people with KC. In less well populated areas there will be fewer people with KC and less experience in local centres.

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Re: Private or NHS for Contact Lenses

Postby Graeme Stevenson » Sun 18 Apr 2010 2:19 pm

I am not sure why anyone would wait 4 weeks for a replacement lens?
What type of lens is it? Some of the soft lenses or hybrid lenses can take some time. Most RGP lenses should be available in around 1 week.
I ordered a -17.00 special KC design lens from Jack Allen Contact Lenses recently and it arrived in 24 hours! Manufacturers are aware the patients need the lenses urgently if lost or damaged and do tend to supply as quickly nas possible.

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Lia Williams
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Re: Private or NHS for Contact Lenses

Postby Lia Williams » Sun 18 Apr 2010 3:13 pm

Graeme,

The lenses I currently wear are a Jack Allen KC lens in the left and a Rose K2 in the right. The last pair of these lenses got to me in a week which must be a record as they have to go via the hospital. A few years ago lenses were taking a month to arrive.

The new lenses are to be corneo-scleral RGP lenses. They are not being sent to me as I need to learn how to use them (although having searched the web and watched the fitting videos I'm sure I could manage). When I spoke to the hospital on Friday the hospital checked with the manufacturers who are unable to get a lenses to the hospital in time for my appointment on Tuesday. The next available appointment is in eight weeks' time - fortunately my original check-up in May is on file so I can use that appointment to collect them.

Meanwhile I'm wearing lenses that aren't optimised. Although this has given be the chance to experience mono-vision as the right eye can see close to and the left at a distance. It's just that this wasn't what the lenses had be prescribed for!

Andrew,

I have used the high street in the past. Indeed it was high street opticians who discovered my problem 20 years ago when I went to upgrade from hard lenses to soft lenses. I was one of the optician's challenges for the next few years. When I moved to Surrey in 1997 I searched out the local KC high street specialist but he failed to fit me. He just didn't have the lens sets to fit me. He was also the local hospital specialist so there was no point being referred there. This is why I'm prepared to spend a whole day on an appointment as it takes me a couple of hours to travel to the hospital appointments and I put up with a dreary waiting room with unpredictable waiting times because I do, in the end, get what I need.

Lia

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Re: Private or NHS for Contact Lenses

Postby GarethB » Mon 19 Apr 2010 7:29 am

Graeme

4 weeks at my hospital is quite normal, Lia is currently on the lenses I used to have. It seems to take a week to process the order, a week to have them made, then there is a delay in the hospital receiving them and sending them to the patient and another delay in the patient getting lenses through the post.

Where you and Andrew are in Scotland may well have a different system which is less restrictive as you have a slightly different NHS system.
Gareth


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