‘Why can’t people in Rugby use St Cross hospital?’

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OLDER people’s lives are being made a misery because health bosses are making them use eye specialists in Warwick instead of ones at St Cross, according to an elderly patient.

Viv Branston, 87, suffers from age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a common eye problem in older people that causes blurred vision – making driving, recognising faces and reading difficult.

St Cross opened a state-of-the art AMD treatment facility in 2011 which has since won two national awards for patient care.

But because of contractual agreements in the NHS, patients from Rugby aren’t allowed to use it, and instead have to use other facilities in Warwick.

Mrs Branston of Hillmorton, who cares for her 88 year old husband who has Parkinson’s, said: “It’s madness – to say it’s an inconvenience is a huge understatement because this is making my life a misery and I know I’m not the only one. I will need an injection to treat the condition once every four weeks for the rest of my life and I have to rely on my grandson’s wife to drive me to Warwick and back, but it takes up to four hours for a round trip because of the traffic.”

AMD affects around ten per cent of over 50s and up to 30 per cent of over 70s.

Mrs Branston added: “The alternative is either paying £50 for a taxi, which I can’t afford, or getting a bus to Coventry, then a bus to Warwick, and back again. But why should I have to do that when St Cross macular unit is just three miles away?

“It’s so unfair on the older people of Rugby.”

Dr Adrian Canale-Parola, chair of Coventry and Rugby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said the contract with Warwick hospital was currently under review.

He said: “Taking on board feedback that has been received from patients, a review of the commissioning policy for AMD has been undertaken and is currently being considered by the CCG. The current contractual arrangement with Warwick Hospital stands until the end of March 2013. All patients with other types of eye conditions can be treated at St Cross Hospital in Rugby.

“We are committed to providing the best value services for our patients in Rugby and continually review our portfolio of commissioning with this in mind.”