ST CROSS Hospital has given Rugby sufferers of an eyesight condition the green light to use a specialist unit – and bosses have said services at the hospital will continue to expand during the year.
The hospital’s £2m specialist macular unit is now open to all sufferers of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) who live in Rugby – who previously faced a 40-mile round trip to get treatment.
The unit has been open since 2011, but a contractual dispute initially meant the people of Rugby were instead made to use a similar unit in Warwick.
In late 2013, the unit began accepting newly-diagnosed patients from Rugby, but a change in contract means existing patients can now choose to be seen by local clinicians at St Cross.
St Cross Chief Finance and Strategy Officer David Moon said he was delighted the situation had been resolved.
He said: “NHS England’s Five Year Forward View suggested that more services should be provided at smaller local hospitals in the future, and we’re proud to play our part in making this a reality.
“This year we have further plans to expand services at the Hospital of St Cross, and so this is just the latest development in this programme.”
Patient Bob Dawson, who had been receiving treatment at the old Walsgrave Hospital and Warwick Hospital for over 10 years, said it was much better to have his treatments locally.
He said: “When I was being treated at Warwick Hospital, it could take me up to one and a half hours to get there by public transport. Having treatment at St Cross is very much more convenient, being only five minutes away from my house.
“I’m also happier being back under the care of Mr Pagliarini, who treated me when I was first diagnosed in 2004.”
Consultant Opthalmologist Sergio Pagliarini said he and his staff were seeing more patients with AMD than ever before due to the higher numbers of older people in the population.
He said: “Now that Rugby patients can choose to visit their local hospital for treatment, we’re able to offer these patients appointments closer to home.
“The macular unit at the Hospital of St Cross also conducts a great deal of research into wet AMD and other macular conditions, giving patients the opportunity to get cutting-edge treatments as part of clinical trials.”
AMD is an eye condition that, while painless, generally leads to the gradual loss of central vision, and can sometimes cause a rapid reduction in vision as a whole.
The unit, which was originally opened in 2011, is specifically designed for treating those with AMD and is split into different sections, including optometry, a photography bay, and consulting and treatment rooms.
Patients interested in being treated at the St Cross unit should speak to their GP.