I knew what was coming two weeks before broadcast, but I didn’t want to influence your reaction by warning you in advance, hence my somewhat enigmatic post below.
And if anyone doesn’t understand why I’m angry with the ROP programme producers then you need to read the post again!
I expect David Moulsdale breathed a sigh of relief when he watched Rip Off Britain, because I doubt that the report will make much of a dent in Optical Express' profits, not least because the lies they provided in their right of reply went unchallenged by the BBC.
OE said that Dr Joanna McGraw’s damaged patient Tony Wilkinson doesn't need dark glasses for his photophobia, just as they said about McGraw’s patient Stephanie Holloway, who was awarded £569,000 (plus interest) in 2014. (They would of course claim that I don’t need dark gasses if I were an OE damaged patient).
Somewhat contradictorily however, Tweedledum (aka Stephen Hannan) contacted Tony before broadcast to say they wanted him to see one of their surgeons to reassess!
When everyone has had a chance to watch this advertorial for laser eye surgery I have plenty to post about its misleading and incorrect content!
I also intend to publish some of the email correspondence I exchanged with the programme’s Creative Director, Rob Unsworth, which includes his ludicrous excuse that there wasn’t enough time to include anything from the interview I recorded at BBC Manchester studios in August.
It takes 10-15 seconds max for me to say, ‘I am a patient advocate and I represent thousands of patients damaged by the unregulated refractive eye surgery industry, including myself, and I have worked with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell since 2012 campaigning for government regulation!'
The BBC is a public service broadcaster, yet Rip off Britain deliberately withheld information that the public have a right to know!
____________________ admin: 12 June update - read 'Suing Optical Express' topic for my recent post explaining the likely reason for my interview was dropped
When the Rip Off Britain researcher contacted me, just over two months ago, I was dubious about wasting my time, because two other programmes had previously contacted me in 2015 and 2016, but neither went ahead.
Once assured that the Rip Off Britain piece on Optical Express and laser eye surgery had definitely been commissioned I happily invested an enormous amount of my time, and provided all the information/documentation they asked for - and more!
At very short notice I contacted a number of OE’s damaged patients willing to be interviewed on camera, but they pushed me for more ’shocking’ cases, operated on no earlier than 2016, telling me that otherwise the piece would be dropped.
Eventually two people filmed interviews, but they have only focused on one, Tony Wilkinson.
I was not overly concerned about being included in the piece, as long as the campaign and OERML were mentioned - until they sent me the intended running order!
This included, “An interview with the RCOphth, providing consumer advice for people who might want to get laser eye surgery”.
I explained that the RCOphth are totally biased and should absolutely NOT be trusted to provide potential consumers with advice, especially after claiming a specious 95% satisfaction rate in their 'refractive surgery standards' advertorial published earlier this year, masquerading as truth!!
It is MY job to provide consumers with advice - with honest information about the very real risks of this unregulated surgery! So if the RCOphth had a voice, then I must too!
This was echoed by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, and a BBC health correspondent who previously investigated OE, and the programme producers then agreed I would be included.
On 31 August I travelled to the BBC studios in Manchester, knowing of course that the two hours interview I gave would be chopped to less than a minute. But as long as My Beautiful Eyes campaign for government regulation was mentioned, anything else would be a bonus.
Keep in mind that I have fought hard for SIX YEARS trying to get national TV cover, so I was incredibly excited, reasonably expecting that this exposé, finally broadcast on a prime time consumer programme, would lead to more media exposure for the campaign.
I promised myself a few weeks ago that I wouldn’t publish further comment about the report until after broadcast tomorrow, when I will have plenty to say!
And I have no doubt that many of you will also have a lot to say after watching it, and I will provide the email address for the person you will want to say it to!
NB: This includes people who have already contacted me as I have no time to go through my files!
Advertorial from The Mail on Sunday, published 23 July...
The Mail have now published two lengthy exposés about the London Eye Hospital owner and ophthalmic surgeon Bobby Qureshi, written by journalist Jo Macfarlane.
Yet they totally ignored the story about Optical Express optom John Margetts, whose registration was suspended by the General Optical Council last week.
Equally worth telling, surely?
And, as many of you know, Optical Express issued legal proceedings against Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL) after publication of The Daily Mail story on 5 January 2015.
You may then reasonably ask, why oh why would ANL now give free advertising to Optical Express?
Well I do know why!
In February this year Optical Express suddenly withdrew their claim (approx £21.5 million), and my next instalment of NMMNG will detail all I know about their financial settlement with ANL, information the latter's legal teams asked me not to publish.
I agreed, but on one condition...
They reneged, because I am now surplus to requirements!
Therefore they no longer have my silence, and all will be revealed soon
"One 77-year-old, who wanted to remain anonymous, said she felt she was a ‘victim’ of ‘unscrupulous’ practices after paying £25,000 for iolAMD lenses in 2014. They made no difference to her vision – and she was registered blind a year later."
"Another patient was also told – as were other patients who spoke to this newspaper – that both eyes had to be fitted with the lenses, at additional cost, ‘for balance’."
Where have I heard that before
"The Harley Street clinic has also been advising patients to obtain a prescription for its own-brand vitamin supplement MacuLEH Light which it claims is available via the NHS.
At approx £90 for a three month supply, just like Optical Express et al, Bobby Qureshi is also directing patients to bleed the NHS - at profit to himself!!
"A GMC spokesman confirmed that Mr Qureshi was under investigation but a full hearing, where he would face any charges, had not been scheduled. The investigation may be dropped if officials decide there is not enough evidence.”
Unlike the GOC, I have yet to see the GMC take any of the numerous complaints from damaged patients to a Fitness To Practise hearing!
Fao journalists reading this, I can provide you with numerous copies of GMC expert reports that reached the same following decision EVERY time!
Quote, 'In my opinion the overall standard of care offered by Dr X to Patient A falls below the standard to be expected of a reasonably competent Consultant Ophthalmologist…
In my opinion the standard of care offered by Dr X to Patient A did not fall seriously below the standard to be expected of a reasonably competent Consultant Ophthalmologist.’*
If I didn’t know what I do now, I would expect a Consultant Ophthalmologist to be HIGHLY competent!
"A spokesman for Mr Qureshi and the London Eye Hospital said: 'Mr Qureshi is fully co-operating with the GMC and it would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage other than to say that he expects that the GMC will exonerate him in its investigation.’”
Of that you can be sure, because the GMC fall into the same category as the RCOphth, both charities funded by surgeon members, and - no better than Trustpilot - keeping the hands that £feed£ them happy!
The corruption and/or immorality within these organisations is beyond sickening, and MUST be exposed soon!
Having dismissed her first complaint, the GMC reconsidered after the high profile trial in 2014, when Stephanie Holloway was awarded £569k on lack of informed consent alone.
This was their decision in June 2015...
Yet two years later the damaged patients keep on coming.
Just like the RCOphth, the GMC are not fit for purpose!
Although the interview I gave to BBC Points West on Friday lasted approx 15 minutes, I was conscious that only a brief clip would be used, so I ensured every point made was hard-hitting!
I slated the government, naming three health ministers who've put off meeting with me since 2013 - Philip Dunne the most recent (see below), dismissed the CQC as useless, praised the GOC for their action against John Margetts, unlike the GMC who refuse to impose sanctions against refractive surgeons repeatedly damaging patients, explained that OE now provide only 12 months aftercare, so costing the NHS untold £millions to clean up their mess (OE recently suggested the NHS should pay £50 for a damaged patient’s records), and vehemently criticised the Royal College of Ophthalmologists for their revised refractive surgery standards that read like an advertorial for refractive surgery - written primarily by refractive surgeons!
I explained Dr David Teenan’s part in these, and that, even though the College trustees were given legal evidence that OE’s Medical Director is being sued by many damaged patients, they considered it appropriate to include him in writing new standards, that Optical Express now refuse to accept, while excluding me at the behest of a corrupt businessman to keep them happy!
I explained the fact that David Moulsdale has (allegedly) funded another organisation to write conflicting standards to suit OE's own modus operandi, with David Teenan leading that panel, alongside Dr Jan Venter and Tweedledum (seriously), and the College STILL say he can stay!! (More on this to come.)
Amazing how much I can say in such a short space of time!
Overall I was very happy with the interview, but not satisfied with my answer to the final question about regulation, unsuccessfully trying to condense enough words to fill a page into just twenty seconds with no time to amend!!
Unfortunately of course this was the clip they used - perhaps because it was the least contentious as they had no time to run my other claims past lawyers!
However, thanks to the BBC, the dry spell is over, with more tick tocks on the horizon…
And I will publish a summary of the GOC Fitness to Practise hearing as soon as I can!
PS: A shout out to David Magee, one of OE’s in-house lawyers, whose company I enjoyed during the first two days. On the third day however, David avoided me like the plague, no doubt warned by Moulsdale to do so.
I don’t expect young David Magee to stay with OE much longer, because on the second day (before he stopped hanging out with me) he told me, prior to the hearing, he'd had no idea of OE's sales tactics.
When I mentioned that I didn’t recall OE having even one in-house lawyer when I started OERML, whereas now they have quite an extensive legal team, he sweetly flattered me (albeit unintentionally) and said it was because of me!
I suspect he might be looking for another job tomorrow
No originality - other than mention of election - simply copy/paste provided by DoH officials, same bullsh*t in all similar letters from health ministers to MPs!
And the reference to 'refractive laser eye surgery' ignores the increasing problems with lens exchange procedures, cataract surgery scandalously sold as a barbaric option to simply wearing reading glasses, resulting in so many undergoing explant surgery at enormous cost to the NHS!
Bobby Qureshi owns Harley Street 'London Eye Hospital’ clinic, and, just like Harley Street surgeon Dan Reinstein (London Vision Clinic responsible for damaging Anneka Rice's vision), Bobby also has a PR company who arrange numerous TV promos like this - not clear why his sidekick has a stethoscope around her neck though!
And today Bobby got his just des(s)erts served by Jo Macfarlane in The Mail on Sunday. A huge kick in the teeth for Bobby given the amount of money he has spent on expensive advertorials in the Mail!
Quote from the Mail article, 'NHS eye experts are in fact having to deal with the fallout.’ This is of course what I’ve been telling the government for years, who continue to turn a blind eye!
The double page article in the Mail is also available online, and the following excerpts equally reflect experiences with Optical Express and other clinics.
• If this was happening on the NHS, there would be outcry.
• I'm furious. It was like being mugged. The anger and frustration has had a massive effect on my health.
• Mr Qureshi behaved 'like a double-glazing salesman', according to Mr Marrett, who was promised a 'special introductory rate' for the EyeMax Mono lens if he signed up for surgery on the same day.
• Patients claiming they were not adequately warned of the risks that it might not work, or that they could need glasses after the operation;
• Several claim they felt pressured into making the decision to go ahead immediately, and were met by a man with a credit-card machine outside the consulting room door.
• One patient, who did not want to be named, said: 'It was all too rushed. We should have come home and thought about it. People have been used as guinea pigs. He [Qureshi] must have made millions.'
• We asked LEH for the data which supports what it claims about its success rate, but the clinic declined to provide it.
• An inspection report by the Care Quality Commission, published last week, revealed a hospital study that found only 54 per cent of patients would recommend it to family and friends. The hospital acknowledged it had to be better at highlighting possible risks, and be 'realistic' about results.
And this is of course common practice within the industry, something I can personally attest to!
• Former Mayor of Westminster, Harvey Marshall, 76, said the hospital offered him £8,000 compensation 'provided you don't speak to people'. He initially rejected this but when the MoS tried to contact Mr Marshall by email, his wife Hazel replied: 'He is not able to talk to you owing to a confidentiality agreement.’
PS: I so love the Mail's headliners - remember the one in January 2015 that kicked off Optical Express' 21.5 million claim, 'Blindness fears over eye surgery at High St clinic'. More to come on their settlement in due course.