Westminster Hall @ 9.30am today, parliamentary debate about ‘Eye health and macular disease’, when John McDonnell MP will be speaking about the unregulated refractive surgery industry, and its cost to the NHS
The Times online has a paywall, but you can sign up for a free month's subscription if you'd like to comment (as I did), and cancel before the first payment is due!
'Profits at the owner of the Optical Express chain have increased sharply.*
Annual accounts for Lorena Investments show a 15 per dip in turnover to £99.1 million, but reduced costs, partly as a result of fewer high street outlets and a smaller marketing budget, lifted pre-tax profit to £20.1 million in 2020, up from £648,000 previously.
That profit included £7.5 million of government grants.** The company also benefited from lower exceptional charges of only £23,000, compared with more than £4 million in the previous 12 months.
David Moulsdale started Optical Express in 1991 with a shop in Edinburgh providing eyecare, spectacles and contact lenses. The company has gone through a big restructuring over the past decade, which includes Moulsdale, 52, now its chairman and still the owner, buying Optical Express’s debt from Royal Bank of Scotland in 2013.
There are 105 Optical Express outlets on British high streets, as well as sites in the Republic of Ireland, Croatia and Germany. Turnover fell by 17 per cent to £89.6 million in 2020, while Europe was down marginally at £9.5 million.
Stewart Mein, 50, a Lorena Investments director, said: “Our business continued to move from the high street, as leases concluded, to purpose-built, state-of-the-art clinical facilities driven by consumer demand. In turn, property overhead costs were driven down, whilst continuing to invest heavily in technological solutions which provide further enhanced levels of clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction and safety.”'
*Increased no doubt because Optical Express (and Optimax/Ultralase UK ) operated throughout most of lockdown, claiming they were providing necessary surgery, and taking business from other providers who had closed to abide by government restrictions. Even the #NHS cancelled many necessary ops!
NB: I have good reason to believe that OE's profits will take a sharp downturn by the end of 2022, as they are also aware!
It took 2 months to get this story published, with Marcello Mega and I jumping through countless hoops - Daily Mail Health Correspondent Shaun Wooller finally getting it over the line for print around 6pm on Friday evening
Many thanks to both journalists, to the ophthalmologists who helped with the science stuff, but mostly to the Optimax victims who agreed to go public with their experiences, including those whose interviews didn't make it to press on this occasion due to lack of space.
However, as I previously mentioned, there is more to come...
Meanwhile, it's still VERY important to share Saturday's post, or this one, as we don't know how many people are out there, worldwide, blissfully unaware of their urgent need for an endothelial cell count check!
“Sasha Rodoy, of My Beautiful Eyes Foundation, which supports patients who have had poor outcomes from refractive eye surgery, said: ‘I am gravely concerned about the patients Optimax has been unable to contact... they may be walking around with a potential time bomb in their eyes.’”
More to come about this story re Optimax & owner Russell Ambrose
Belated update to my 25 May post (scroll down to catch up), when BBC Morning Live presenter Gethin Jones had laser eye surgery ’top up’ with Julian Stevens at Moorfields Private Eye Hospital
Deafening silence when I asked Gethin Jones whether he or the BBC had paid for his surgery, or if it was ‘gifted’ - aka a freebie in return for priceless advertising!
So I sent an FOI to the BBC, who surprisingly gave me the information I'd requested without a fight!
However, they probably realised that had they not, I would certainly have argued that such information could not possibly fall under the purpose of 'journalism, art or literature', given that this was a blatant advertorial, making a mockery of their claim: 'It is important that the BBC is an independent and impartial news organisation.'