Speeding Up Eye Treatment

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Nine treatment centres will be established across Wales to help ensure faster, fairer treatment for patients at risk of losing their sight, Health Minister Edwina Hart announced today.

It follows a review of current arrangements by Local Health Boards for delivering treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Wet AMD is the primary cause of sight loss in the UK.

Last June, Mrs Hart announced that the NHS in Wales would fund Lucentis treatment for first and second eye patients with wet AMD.

Mrs Hart also announced a further pound10m for providing treatment for wet AMD in 2009/10. pound5m is already being made available for treatment in 2008/09.

Edwina Hart said:

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"Since the summer, when I announced that the Assembly Government would fund treatment for wet AMD in both eyes, it has become clear that there are differences in service delivery across Wales.

"To ensure that every patient is guaranteed the same quality of care, nine treatment centres will be established across Wales.

"Funding treatment for both eyes will mean added pressure on ophthalmology services. I am therefore pleased to announce that staffing levels will also be increased this month.

"An ophthalmology network will also be established so that, in the longer term, there is a vehicle for clinical training and expertise in the field of wet AMD. All this will ensure we provide a faster, fairer, higher quality service for patients."

Patients in Wales are already undergoing treatment for wet AMD in the second eye. Treatment for wet AMD in the first eye will commence from 20 November.

Mrs Hart also said that patients who have self-funded treatment for wet AMD will be allowed to transfer their treatment with future costs being met by the Welsh Assembly Government.

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