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Let's make cataract referrals a sight easier

Having read 'GPs urged to curb cataract surgery' (News, 31 May), I would like to express my concern that GPs are yet again being made scapegoats.

The way I see it, Mr Paul Rosen, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust, lead author of the study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, has missed the underlying cause for the sharp rise in patient referrals.

We are all looking after an ever-increasing number of elderly patients, which in itself will lead to more referrals for a condition that mainly develops with age.If patients are not referred, they will visit their opticians, who then simply send the GOS18 form to their GP recommending referral to ophthalmology. The GP will then just forward the referral on, since they may find it rather difficult to explain why the patient was not going to be referred in the first place.

I cannot see how any GP could justify their decision not to refer the patient, and how they could defend this in the event of a complaint. Maybe opticians should take a look at their referral criteria. We should also review if it is really necessary to involve GPs in GOS18 referrals, or if opticians could refer patients themselves.

Dr Nick Markert, Reading, Berkshire

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