Clinical service achievements

First patients undergo cataracts procedures at Sir Robert Peel Community Hospital

Theatre staff at Sir Robert Peel Community Hospital on the first day of cataract surgery.

The first patients have received their cataracts procedure at Sir Robert Peel Community Hospital in Tamworth after the newly established service opened its doors.

The service began today (Wednesday 2 November), with the first procedure being carried out by Consultant Ophthalmologist, Mr Banerjee, following more than £400,000 of investment in specialist new equipment which will enable patients to receive the care they need closer to home.

It is also the first time in 18 years that this service has been provided out of a hospital setting in Tamworth.

Mr Anil Kumar, Consultant Ophthalmologist at UHDB, said the launch of the service will be a huge benefit to patients: 

"As we have an ageing population in the UK, and cataracts is a condition that largely affects elderly patients, the number of patients needing this treatment is increasing each year, so there is a huge demand for this service in the region and indeed nationally.

“We have had a vision about utilising our community hospital to deliver services, such as cataracts, closer to patient’s homes, and we have been planning to create a high-volume cataract hub here in Tamworth to help those patients currently on waiting lists to have their procedure in a timelier manner. It’s also a great asset for the hospital itself as it brings a multi-disciplinary team approach to Sir Robert Peel and enhances the skills of the clinical teams too.”

Cataract surgery involves the removal of the lens in a patient’s eye which has turned cloudy with a new, artificial lens, which affects vision. Patients having their surgery at Sir Robert Peel will be “in and out within an hour” and will be discharged home while their eye recovers.

One of the first patients to receive their procedure was 73-year-old Peter Kirby from Tamworth, who said it was a very positive experience:

“I first knew that I had a cataract two years ago when I failed my motorcycle racing licence and since then, the problem has been gradually worsening. Although it was all very new to staff, I thought they handled everything wonderfully.

Peter Kirby, one of the first patients to receive cataract treatment at Sir Robert Peel Community Hospital“It was a very quick turnaround and the staff were great. They treated me with lots of care – and we had a lot of laughs too! The consultant was also telling me how wonderful the new equipment was at the hospital and was so enthusiastic.”

It was very shortly after his procedure that Mr Kirby began to see the benefits, and he extended his gratitude to the staff:

“It was only about 27 hours after my operation that I went for a walk outside and everything was so bright, beautiful and colourful, which is remarkable really. I can now pick out details on buildings that I previously couldn’t, so I’m very grateful to have had the procedure.”

Natasha Riley, Service Co-ordinator for Theatres at Sir Robert Peel Community Hospital, said the introduction of the cataracts service is a real boost for the community and colleagues in Tamworth:

“As a community hospital, to be bringing a service back to our local community, allowing them to be treated closer to home, is amazing. Cataract patients often tend to be elderly, so coming to a community hospital which is more peaceful than a busy acute site will be beneficial, and we can also offer patients who are waiting for their procedure in Burton a shorter waiting time, further enhancing their patient experience.

“It’s also brilliant for our theatre staff, who are trained in various specialities, to develop and gain more experience in other areas. We are thrilled to be able to bring cataracts to Sir Robert Peel and further expanding our growing service offering to our local communities.”

It is also hoped that in addition to Staffordshire-based patients, the service will also be able to offer Derbyshire-based patients the option to have their treatment at Sir Robert Peel to help reduce waiting times for cataract procedures.

Mr Kumar added: “It has been a real team effort getting this service off the ground and will bring so many benefits to patients and colleagues, as well as the wider Trust in an operational and financial aspect. I’m really pleased to be able to offer this to patients. Everyone involved in this project, from the Surgery Division Leadership Team to the Theatre staff in Tamworth, deserves huge credit.”

Sharon Martin, Executive Chief Operating Officer at UHDB, said: “We have excellent facilities at Sir Robert Peel Community Hospital which are well set up for providing an efficient and high-quality service for patients with good parking facilities away from our acute hospitals. As we seek to reduce our waiting lists, which built up during the pandemic, facilities like this will really help more people to get the treatment they need as soon as possible.”