'BBC Scotland has learned that a major high street chain of opticians is reopening for non-urgent, elective treatments apparently in breach of Scottish government guidelines… However the Scottish government told the programme: "We cannot comment on the specific claims because we are not aware of the full details however, opticians should not be undertaking non-urgent procedures at this time.”’ (Link in previous post)
Why didn’t the Scottish government tell BBC Scotland News, ‘We will look into this’?
Hmmm... let me think why that might be
With David Moulsdale publicly schmoozing with Scotland’s First Minister perhaps the government didn’t want to embarrass Nicola Sturgeon - OE having taken the opportunity to associate her (and legendary racing driver Sir Jackie Stewart) closely with his corrupt organisation.
The moral and financial wrongness of this partnership cannot easily be ignored, with so many thousands of Optical Express damaged patients forced to turn to the NHS for aftercare - at enormous cost to all four UK nations, often for life!
It is outrageous that the Scottish government have entered into this alliance.
A little history: With the help of some of his wealthy and influential buddies, including Sir Tom Hunter and Lord Jack McConnell, I was told that David Moulsdale was chasing a knighthood when OERML arrived on the scene in 2012, and one of the ways people do that is to publicly support as many high profile charities as possible - and funnel a lot more money to ‘helpful’ parties!
(I understand that OERML trashed his chance of a knighthood.)
Jaw dropping hypocrisy with Moulsdale’s previous involvement in the RNIB: 'From 2001 - 2004 he was the Chairman of the Royal National Institute of the Blind'
Coincidentally, one of their many thousands of damaged (lens exchange) patients contacted me yesterday and told me that he'd just spoken with 'Simon' at the Optical Express Birmingham store.
Asking to see someone asap, he was told that he would have to wait up to three weeks for an aftercare appointment - because they are ONLY seeing new patients from Monday!
Of course they are, because Optical Express will be struggling to make money now they have to pay wages, and new patients will be pressured to book surgery and leave hefty deposits, whereas damaged patients are a drain on their resources, wasting valuable sales time.
Meanwhile, people are STILL waiting for their deposits to be refunded for surgery that was cancelled months ago!
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Thanks to Optician Online for including my comments re Tweedledum's response (on behalf of Optical Express) to BBC Radio 4 Inside Health's exposé
"CALLS FOR CHANGE Sasha Rodoy, founder of the My Beautiful Eyes Foundation and campaigner for government regulation of the refractive eye surgery industry, told Optician it was her who provided Inside Health’s production team with the internal OE documents referred to in the broadcast. She said the claims made on sales incentives and commission were accurate.
‘As refractive eye surgery campaigner since 2012, I’ve talked with many thousands of people damaged by this industry who report the same sales pressure to undergo surgery, be it lens exchange or laser. I have listened to the BBC broadcast a number of times, and with nine years of experience to call on, there is nothing in it that I consider “factually inaccurate” or “fake news”.
‘Sam Begum initially contacted me more than a year ago, and she is one of hundreds I have helped to find legal representation, with claims against OE and their surgeons.
‘Government regulation is desperately needed, as commercially driven eye operations regularly leave people permanently damaged, left to seek aftercare and expensive reparative surgery from the NHS.
‘With respect to Optical Express’ claim of “sensationalising fake news”: what’s happening within the refractive surgery industry needs to be sensationalised to bring this scandal to the attention of the government and public.’"
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These pages* (stars my own), along with hundreds of Optical Express documents, were delivered to my home in 2015, and I trust that the person responsible knows how grateful I remain to this day
Many of the internal emails and documents indisputably prove patient care is very low on OE's agenda, profit their priority.
So when Tweedles (aka Stephen Hannan) told the Optician journalist Andrew McClean that the BBC Radio 4 report was 'fake news', he was lying!
Because, with respect to optoms and PAs (Patient Advisers) receiving incentives and prizes, this is entirely factual, as is Sam Begum's story, and that from Professor Leela Biant and her father.
I therefore look forward to Tweedles' scriptwriters telling us what they consider at least one of the claimed 'numerous factual inaccuracies' to be - in the event of which, as I said, I look forward to the news that OE will sue the BBC for defamation.
Shockingly, surgeons also receive financial incentives if they pass a target number of ops in one day, which leaves them extremely stressed and tired, and a danger to their patients, especially those treated later in the day.
Another wonderful little birdie with a conscience had previously provided me with a copy of OE's 'Patient Adviser Flow', an internal sales training manual that proved Stephanie Holloway was telling the truth at her trial, won on lack of informed consent alone.**
I have a vast collection of OE internal documents provided by insiders, and these just an amuse bouche...
But laughably, the ones mentioned in the BBC report were courtesy of Optical Express, who accidentally included one of my clients in a lengthy 'Super Saturday' email thread in 2018, about which I posted on this forum at the time.
When he realised that his staff were sending me internal documents, David Moulsdale apparently introduced a crack down on any paperwork being removed from OE premises, including training manuals, and of course computers leave paper trails, so inside hard copy documentation has been sadly sparse for a while.
FAO OE employees: I know that many of you follow my posts, and should by now appreciate that I guarantee confidentiality and NEVER name my sources, though usually anonyomous or using a pseudonym.
**Luckily! As Stephanie's legal representative had neglected to file the paperwork for her negligence claim in time.
And I vividly recall our conversations throughout the week leading up to trial, when Stephanie came so close to dropping her claim because she stood to lose her home if she lost, lack of informed consent a precarious claim at that time.
Therefore, every person in litigation with Optical Express owes so much to Stephanie for taking that leap of faith!
Before commenting on the claims in this article at length, I'll give you time to consider for yourself whether there were ANY 'factual inaccuracies' in the BBC Radio 4 Inside Health report! (Link posted 4 March)
In my opinion there were none whatsoever, but if Optical Express can prove otherwise, then I look forward to the news that they intend to sue the BBC for defamation. (Remember their £21.5 million claim against the Daily Mail!)
And having provided the programme's production team with numerous internal OE documents referred to in the broadcast, evidencing sales incentives and commissions paid to staff, I can assure you these were quoted from accurately - and I will publish later.
Shabir had lens exchange surgery in 2014, with Dimitri Kazakos, who is competing with colleague David Teenan for the highest number of damaged patients in litigation, though in Scotland it's an unchallenged win for Dr Teenan, OE’s UK Medical Director
'Shabir Ahmed, 61, from Watford, says he is another. For the former company director, who is now a full-time carer to his two severely disabled sons, aged 24 and 24,* who are both congenitally blind, says the result of his operation has been devastating. “I explained this to these guys right at the beginning: that I see for three people,” said Ahmed, who had Mplus X implants last February and March. “Sometimes at night I need to get up. I didn’t want to be looking for the glasses. Now even my glasses can’t help me. My vision now is so poor in darkness that I can barely see. And it is not just the effect on my vision but on me mentally and emotionally. In a way I feel enormously foolish.”
*Misprint: Shabir’s sons were then aged 24 and 31.
Like most others pressured into buying lens exchange surgery (RLE) aka natural lens replacement (NLR), Shabir was told by greedy and unethical Optical Express employees (rewarded with bonuses and prizes for meeting sales targets) that he would never get cataracts if he had this surgery, but unfortunately they failed to highlight the very possible and frequent downsides to this unnecessary and risky surgery.
In January 2015, as a result of the aforementioned article in The Observer (hard copy) and The Guardian (online), BBC London News presenter Sonja Jessup interviewed Shabir, and his supportive MP Richard Harrington.
With filmed excerpts from Shabir’s exceptionally demanding daily life, scheduled for broadcast a few days later, the piece would have been dynamite publicity to highlight the scandal that is this industry: but given the right of reply, Optical Express reverted to their usual modus operandi when faced with honest public criticism - they called in lawyers!
The broadcast was postponed, and then shelved by the BBC, as it had lost its impetus on the back of the newspaper reports. (Note I say ’shelved’, which means it is sitting in the BBC archives!)
Unable to bear the discomfort and debilitating vision any longer, in 2016, Shabir underwent an explant of the left lens at Moorfields Eye Hospital (MEH), followed three months later by a vitrectomy…
After discussion with his NHS surgeon, not wanting to push his luck and risk another explant, considering the increased possibility of a retinal detachment, Shabir decided to live with the poor vision in his right eye.
Last Wednesday, following the BBC Radio 4 Inside Health broadcast, I accompanied Shabir to MEH for his third post op checkup since emergency surgery on xmas day - after he suffered a retinal detachment in his left eye on 24 December!
The MEH consultant clearly explained that the likelihood of retinal detachment is increased with any surgical procedure that interferes with the lens and the vitreous, and any interference with your retina and vitreous greatly increases the likelihood of cataracts, therefore people who suffer a retinal detachment after laser surgery are at greater risk of developing cataracts.
Shabir is currently in litigation, with Optical Express shockingly arguing last week that his claim is fabricated!
Pamela Erskine is another victim of this scandal relying on the NHS: the prognosis not good after FOUR operations to reattach her retina following RLE surgery, performed by David Teenan - and sold to her at at the age of 47! (And the RCO considered it appropriate to have Teenan on the RSSWG core panel to write the College’s Refractive Surgery Standards!)
Moorfields Eye Hospital, and many other NHS eye hospitals across the UK, provide incredibly costly care and treatment to a rapidly escalating number of people damaged by private refractive eye surgery providers.
And the government have no problem with this!
Shabir will be asking MEH for an approximation of the costs to the NHS for his many consultations and operations, and I will encourage Pamela to do likewise - and anyone else who’s been provided with NHS aftercare as a result of refractive surgery performed by private companies.
This should also be taken up by your MP - and I don't care how useless s/he might be, get it on record that you have asked them! Don't be put off with a letter, unless you’re housebound INSIST on a face to face meeting, they’re paid to serve you!
Important: before my next scheduled post (tomorrow), to be able to appreciate its content, if you haven’t yet done so please listen to the BBC Radio 4 Inside Health broadcast - link in post below.
Worried that even one story would make it past the lawyers to print today, we've ended up with two, this one in the Scottish Mail on Sunday
We held our breath for this one, because when given the right of reply, especially with Sunday publications, Optical Express will wait until the eleventh hour before their lawyers challenge a point, or say they haven’t had the patient's authority to discuss their details, and the story has to be held back.
OE have done this many times over the years, the article eventually dropped, with the press being super careful following OE's £21.5 million dead in the water claim against Associated Newspapers Ltd (now DMG Media Ltd).
OE paid out more than £1 million in legal costs, but not before ANL came to an agreement that in future they wouldn't publish any articles mentioning me. I didn't believe this when I was told, but sure enough it was true.
However, the Daily Mail and sister publications are likely to regret this in the not too distant future...
But this time everything was covered, Sam’s letter of authority sent to Tweedledum (aka Stephen Hannan) et al, copied to press lawyers, and her story made it to print!
What journalist Marcello Mega prudently omitted from the article, which could also have delayed/stopped the story, is that Sam’s surgeon was Dr David Teenan, OE’s very own UK Medical Director.
David Teenan has numerous legal claims against him (a number previously settled out of court), yet The Royal College of Ophthalmologists pandered to David Moulsdale, Optical Express CEO, and appointed Teenan to the Refractive Surgery Working Group, responsible for revising the (unenforceable) College standards in 2016.
This article from the Herald Scotland in 2016 explains the above - even quoting me!
As regular readers know, also at Moulsdale’s behest, the RCOphth removed me from my nominated position as Lay Adviser to the Working Group, just one of a number of reasons I believe the Royal College is not fit for purpose, and should have their charitable status removed!
Meanwhile, David Teenan exhibits utter contempt for the patients he has damaged, mocking them by posting an image of Harry Potter character Mad-Eye Moody on his Facebook page, shockingly ‘Liked' by fellow ophthalmologist Professor Christopher Liu.
Liu still not made it to president! He should have remembered the old adage, lie down with dogs...