Having finally agreed to meet with me in 2014, but postponing/rescheduling at least three times in the interim, when Daniel Poulter stepped down as health minister in 2015, Seb Corbyn joked that he’d done so as a last ditch attempt to avoid meeting with me
(Dr Dan sent an email to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell saying that he'd told his successor Ben Gummer he should meet with me asap!)
I've lost count of the number of health ministers who have agreed to meet with me but cancelled at the last minute (incl Gummer), or claimed they're too busy - with more serious matters to deal with than people who've had their eyes and and lives irreparably damaged, costing NHS England and NHS Scotland untold millions in lifetime aftercare, and surgery trying to fix the damage caused by private and corrupt refractive eye surgery providers.
Greg Brady and his partner Catherine Froud met with Ranil Jayawardena MP earlier this year, and he arranged a meeting with Caroline Dinenage, the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, within a matter of weeks - and it wasn't cancelled!
I wasn't invited, as Greg and Catherine had explained to Ranil that I needed to be, and they initially saw no point in going without me, as they told their MP. However, after discussing it at length, we decided they should not miss the opportunity to talk to at least one health minister face to face and tell them about this scandal.
Armed with documents and information I provided, including copies of copy/paste letters from various health ministers over the years - claiming all’s well with the refractive surgery industry - they met with Caroline Dinenage at the House of Commons on 20 May. They told her all about my work, my campaign, John McDonnell's involvement, etc…*
So when Greg and Catherine told me that she had promised to contact me and arrange a meeting, I didn't hold out much hope, especially as none of us received replies to our emails chasing this meeting a month later.
I therefore cannot tell you surprised I was when I received a phone call late Wednesday afternoon from the Policy Support Officer, asking me if I would meet with Jennifer Benjamin, Deputy Director of the Department of Health and Social Care, and two members of the Professional Regulation Team.
Finally, a government health minister who has listened - and actively responded!
However, I won't get excited unless I am given reason to when we meet in early September, and expect that I will still be asking for a meeting with the Minister of State for Health - whoever s/he may be after Boris has sorted out Brexit (!!)
*Following the 20 May meeting, I found a 2017 email from Caroline (before she was a minister), replying to another of her constituents damaged by laser eye surgery, who had criticised the lack of government regulation and asked for Caroline’s support, so she was aware of problems before meeting with Greg and Catherine, but didn't admit to this.
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I read this latest bullsh*t copy/paste letter from Steve Brine, another corrupt and uninterested health minister, forwarded for my attention whilst I was in Manchester attending Dr Bobby Qureshi's MPTS hearing
I will of course be writing my response for Theresa Villiers to forward to this stupid man, who does not have a clue what he's talking about, not even understanding that laser eye surgery IS a refractive procedure, not something different!
As for his claim that, 'The Department is working closely with stakeholders... to identify where standards could be improved', not only is he lying (£££ being the only concern for this corrupt government, happy to take the industry's bribes to ignore me), but I believe the most important stakeholders are in fact the patients!
And like so many of his predecessors, he insults me and every other damaged patient by comparing refractive surgery to cosmetic procedures!
I would draw Steve Brine's attention to the current MPTS hearing, and invite him to meet just a few of Dr Bobby Qureshi's patients who are registered legally blind, having completely lost the little vision they did have prior to a totally unregulated prodecure carried out by Dr Qureshi.
Although, by the time Theresa Villiers writes to Steve Brine, he'll probably have been replaced with another useless MP who knows zilch about health issues, least of all eyes!
I arrived home from Manchester late last night, and am heading back early Monday morning, but I will update you tomorrow with a summary of yesterday's MPTS hearing.
Meanhwile, in addition to my regular work, these trips to Manchester are expensive, with train fares, accommodation, and food to pay for.
No matter how small an amount, contributions towards my costs would be very much appreciated ????
Which part of 'PLEASE PLEASE CONTACT YOUR MP' did you not understand
Addressed to each one of you damaged by this industry, yet even after my explaining how important this is, only a small percentage of you have bothered to email or call your MP!
To have teeth in parliament it is vital that your MP has knowledge of this scandal - no matter which party they belong to, because this is a cross party issue!
And of course I know the health minister will reply with a copy/paste letter, but that's fine, because what they say is bullsh*t - they have got it so wrong, and unwittingly handing us a stick to beat them with, which will be explained at a later date!
Meanwhile, to the people who've actually shown support and contacted their MP, if you haven't yet done so, please send me their name and I will add it to my list for John McDonnell's attention.
NB: If you contacted your MP a while ago, and told me at the time, please remind me to ensure I have their name on the list.
I'd really like to move on with more interesting posts, but until I see more active support for my campaign, I don't feel inclined to so do!
There are 650 MPs in parliament, and with so many thousands of damaged refractive eye surgery patients, it is statistically impossible that there is not at least one in every constituency.
I expect that most of you will have had cause to make a complaint at least once in your life, and received the response, ‘No-one else has ever complained’!
When I first met with Optimax owner Russell Ambrose, on Friday 13 May 2011 (definitely unlucky for one of us!), he told me that it was rare if he had one complaint like mine a year.
Hmmm… now I come to think about it he wasn’t lying, because it would indeed be rare if he did have ONLY one complaint a year
Those of you who have read all my posts in this thread, since 17 September, will now be in no doubt of the government’s deliberate refusal to address this scandal; denying that there is a problem, while patronising all of us damaged by this unregulated and corrupt industry with their bullsh*t letters.
The way to force the government to pay attention is to publicise the fact that it is costing the NHS £zillions to clean up the damage caused by private providers, and in state benefits for those no longer able to work as a result!
Most MPs hold regular constituency surgeries, where you have the right to meet with them - no matter who you voted for!
I recently asked some of my strongest supporters and campaigners if they’d contacted their MP, and these were a few of the replies!
1. 'My MP is useless.’ It doesn't matter, we need your concerns on record!
2. 'I did a long time ago but didn't get a reply.’ Try again until you do!
3. ‘I haven’t had time, but he’s a Tory so it's not worth it.’
(i) If I have time to do what I do then you sure as hell have time!
(ii) Some Tory MPs are supportive, including my own - it’s the government ministers who toe the party line!
(iii) They are there to act on behalf of their constituents.
4. ‘I will…' When??
The reason you need to meet your MP - unless physically impossible - is because meeting a damaged patient face to face and hearing their story is far more emotive than any written words.
One damaged patient recently met with her MP who was completely shocked, and apparently moved to tears when he heard her story. He has since contacted me and John McDonnell to offer support for our campaign.
And if we only have 100 MPs reacting like this it’s enough to spread the word and cause the government to think about their involvement with, and support for, this corrupt industry!
And trust me, there is total involvement from some government members - entirely financial!
Many of you reading this would not be receiving NHS treatment or legal representation without my help, and luckily I ask very little in return, because that’s exactly what I get!
And with a few exceptions, the majority of you have no idea of the amount of time and effort I put into my work, juggling a dozen balls and more - every day! I won't argue that it is my choice to do so - at the expense of my health (and sanity at times) - but when I’m faced with apathy and defeat from those I’m representing, I have to question why I’m bothering!
I could have sold out to the industry years ago, for more money than I’d ever need - but I didn’t, and I never will!
So help me out here, PLEASE PLEASE contact your MP, because when I do at long last meet with the health minister - any health minister (Steve Barclay current favourite) - we need as many MPs as possible onboard to add their voices in parliament.
But the only way they'll know about this scandal is if YOU tell them!
I need active support from all of you, and if you don’t know who your MP is check here:
Google their home page, where you’ll find the constituency office phone number listed. Call to ask to meet with them, and don’t give up until you do!
And when you have a response, please let me know!
And if you’re in Steve Barclay’s North East Cambridgeshire constituency, his numbers are: 01354 656635/0207 219 7117
I’d intended closing for the weekend with a different image, as you’re probably bored reading the same copy/paste letters from government health ministers - as I have done for SEVEN years - but yet another from Steve Barclay arrived in my mailbox this afternoon
Earlier this year I was contacted by a family member of an Optical Express damaged patient; unable to work, suffering with painful and poor vision, and depression, desperately needing reparative surgery. Unless resolved this man will remain dependant on state benefits to support his family, a perfect example of cause and effect.
Cause: No regulation + refusal by providers to provide aftercare.
Effect: Damaged patients + NHS costs.
In 2012 a little birdie told me that Optical Express had appointed Lord Jack McConnell to the board as a non-executive director, because David Moulsdale knew that I would get this to parliament, and Jack would then lobby ministers on their behalf.
And he did!
On 20 November 2103, John McDonnell presented a Private Members Bill calling for government regulation of this corrupt industry.
For three weeks prior to this, Lord Jack McConnell repeatedly called John’s office trying to get a meeting with him. John refused to speak with him, but as we later learnt, Jack did manage to lobby corruptible MPs - a practise that OE has continued with MPs who are willing to take bribes in one form or another!
A few months later Russell Ambrose tried his luck!
John forwarded this to me (with a comment that I won’t publish, but translated roughly = ????)
In the same way that he'd ignored Lord Jack McConnell, John intended to ignore Russell too, but I had a more amusing suggestion!
Back to serious…
The government have proven that they have no concern for the tens of thousands of damaged eyes and lives, nor for the thousands yet to come. But, just like the industry responsible, they do care about ££££!
These are approximate NHS costs:
• £45 per GP visit.
• £108 per A&E visit.
• £110 per hospital outpatient visit - assuming you don’t see the consultant.
• £963 per lens extraction +IOL insertion.
Next week I will explain how each of you can help me make the government listen to us!
Steve Barclay’s letter was a result of Karen Smith having met with her MP, Nigel Mills, asking him to support the campaign for regulation, explaining that she is now dependant on the NHS for aftercare.
At least the writer was observant enough to replace ‘laser surgery’ with 'eye lens surgery’ in yet another copy/paste letter.
But other than that, the small selection of letters I’ve published, from health ministers and Dept of Health officials, are fit for nothing more than a game of Snap!
And while Karen - and untold thousands of other people damaged by the private sector - is being treated by the NHS, many more are being refused urgently needed treatment.
Yet another refusal to meet with me, Dunne's letter to Theresa Villiers in 2017 repeats the same tired mantra, as does Alastair Burt to Mary Glindon in 2016, and I have dozens more that I could publish, but I trust I’ve now made my point
Two days afters she was elected as leader of the conservative party, Theresa May sacked Dunne, and John McDonnell is currently trying to find out who I should be fighting to meet next, because two health ministers have recently told me that refractive eye surgery is not their responsibility!
The CQC and GMC have done nothing whatsoever to stop the endless stream of damaged patients contacting me for help and advice on a daily basis...
While the government’s hackneyed claim that the Royal College of Ophthalmologists is ‘leading work to improve the provision, safety and standards for patient information regarding these procedures’, is nonsensical and more than two years out of date!
The College guidelines are unenforceable, ignored by many of their members, including OE’s Dr David Teenan, incredibly a core member of the RSSWG responsible for writing the guidelines.
(Shockingly a registered charity, existing primarily for the benefit of their fee paying surgeon members, I have utter contempt for the College's hierarchy.)
Instead of regurgitating these untruths (note my restraint), I want a health minister to tell me why they continue to make these spurious claims!
Meanwhile, the number of patients damaged by the private sector and forced to seek NHS aftercare is rapidly rising, and the government cannot be allowed to continue to refuse to address this scandal, as my next post in this thread will make clear.
Repeated requests from John McDonnell asking Dan Poulter's successor to meet with me - after Dan wrote to me that he had advised Ben Gummer to do asap!
Hoping a fellow conservative might persuade him, my local MP, Theresa Villiers, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, asked Gummer to meet with me on more than one occasion.
Repeated excuses. as Gummer pretended there was no problem, copy and pasting word for word what Dan Poulter had written: CQC regulates, GMC investigates naughty doctors,* and together with guidance from the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, 'this will help to strengthen public protection in this area’!
Lies, lies, and more lies!
21 September 2015, just nine days after Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader, I was sat in the member's meeting area at parliament’s Portcullis House with newly appointed Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, when Ben Gummer serendipitously walked by our table!
John pulled me back as I leapt to my feet to go after him, warning that the armed security officers would throw me out if I approached the little sh*t.
Reluctantly I sat down.
And that was the closest I got to meet with Ben Gummer.
His position as health minister was of course short lived, and his political career now over.
*To date, not one ophthalmologist has had so much as a smack on the hand from the GMC, including those with multiple legal claims against them, and/or those proven to have damaged patients. Even surgeons whose insurers have paid out to claimants have continued without any retsrictions imposed by the GMC.
It should be considered that, like the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, the GMC is funded by their fee paying surgeon members, so - just as Trustpilot remove negative reviews at the behest of paying advertisers - they don't want to bite the hands that feed them!
I wasn’t happy about meeting with Department of Health officials, as Dan Poulter had suggested, but when John explained that these are the people who actually write government policy, I gritted my teeth and emailed them on 3 July 2014.
Increasingly frustrated with being stonewalled, I emailed Jeremy Hunt on 29 August 2014, asking if he would meet with me.
Hunt’s office replied,
‘...due to diary commitments, the Secretary of State is unable to meet with you.
You may wish to discuss your concerns with Department of health officials, who are happy to meet with you, as suggested by Dr Dan Poulter following is meeting with John McDonnell MP.
For further discussion you may want to contact Dawn O’Neill at...'
On 30 Sept I emailed Dawn,
In response to my letter sent to the Secretary of State on 29 August, Richard Tromans writes that Jeremy Hunt is too busy to meet with me.
In his letter dated 30 June 2014, Daniel Poulter advised John McDonnell that he too was unable to meet with me, suggesting I should contact Noel Griffin and Tim Baxter.
Accordingly, I emailed both parties at least twice, left messages with their offices, yet to date have received no acknowledgment from either. Please see details below.’
2 October, Dawn replied,
Thank you for getting in contact.
As you are aware, the Keogh Review of the regulation of cosmetic interventions considered a broad sweep of procedures, not only breast implants in response to the PIP scandal. While the Review did not single out refractive eye surgery, the Department of Health felt that it was appropriate to include it in the work programme being taken forward in response to the Review.
[Blah de blah…]
We would encourage you to maintain contact with the Royal College of Ophthalmologists to help them make effective proposals appropriate to refractive eye surgery. [ROTFLMAO]
Following correspondence with Ministers, I understand that Dr Dan Poulter suggested that you meet with officials. Following your email to Tim and Noel on 3 July, I responded (on 4th July), offering you a meeting and suggesting some dates. We have not received a response to this email, nor to subsequent emails from Noel (on 7th July) and me (17th July) (copies attached)*.
Tim Baxter is no longer working on cosmetics, but his successor, Jim Fowles, Noel and I would be happy to meet with you to discuss the work being undertaken by the RCS. If you want to give me dates/time to avoid, I am happy to put forward some dates for you to consider. Please let me know how you wish to proceed.
*The ‘copies attached' included only text, so I asked to see the original emails, with the intention of asking my internet/email provider to investigate why they hadn’t reached my webmail, let alone my computer. Unsurprisingly these were never produced, and I question if they were ever sent at all.
20 October 2014, accompanied by Seb Corbyn, John McDonnell and I met with Jim Fowles, Noel Griffin and Dawn O’Neill.
I let the DoH boys talk first, explaining the political side to John, but it was so far from the issue that I interrupted with, ‘This is bullsh*t!’
Trying to hide the smile on his face, John sat back and let me rip
I bombarded them with documents, info, and enough evidence that unarguably highlighted the urgent need for government regulation...
Finally realising that they had no option, it was agreed that they would advise Dan Poulter that he should meet with me in person as soon as possible.
5 Nov 2014, Noel Griffin wrote:
14 November 2014, John McDonnell wrote:
Dan Poulter replied that John should contact his office to arrange a date to meet with me.
And a meeting was duly scheduled, postponed, rescheduled, postponed, rescheduled...
12 May 2015, Dr Dan Poulter resigned as health minister, succeeded by Ben Gummer...
Five months after I received the government response previously posted, Dr Daniel Poulter succeeded Simon Burns in September 2012, and that’s when the battle for me to meet with a health minister began!
Nearly two years later, in April 2014, John McDonnell MP had at long last managed to secure a meeting for me with Dan Poulter, scheduled for Tuesday 6 May. And, at my request, Professor Harminder Dua, then president of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, had agreed to accompany us to the meeting. (At that time I trusted the RCOphth!)
Armed with a file stuffed with hundreds of letters from damaged patients, all addressed to Dan Poulter, I was looking forward to finally highlighting the scandal of the refractive surgery industry to a government health minister, a doctor himself, so he’d be bound to listen to me - wouldn’t he?
Government protocol requires that the names of non government personnel are provided to the minister’s office prior to any meeting. My name was of course on the list given to Poulter weeks before our scheduled meeting.
So it was a huge shock when Seb Corbyn called me shortly before, informing me that Dan Poulter's office had called to say that I could not attend the meeting because I was a layperson!
They’d timed it so there was no opportunity for John to argue this, that I was the reason the meeting had been requested.
And have no doubt, Poulter knew this
John met with Dan Poulter on Tuesday 6 May, and followed up with this letter...
'8th May 2014
Dear Dr Poulter,
Thank you for meeting with myself and Professor Harminder Dua on Monday the 6th May. I am optimistic that by taking the appropriate actions now we can avoid refractive eye surgery emerging as the latest cosmetic surgery scandal.
As a follow up to the meeting, we had agreed that Professor Dua would send you on his correspondence with the Royal College of Surgeons regarding proper representation for refractive eye surgery. I understand that this has been sent along with the thoughts of Naresh Joshi regarding the make-up of the Inter-Speciality Committee.
Thank you also for agreeing to write to Norman Williams to flag up the issue of a specialist in refractive eye surgery not currently being represented on the Inter-Specialities Committee.
Regarding the invasive and pressurised sales tactics used by the large high street competitors, I include the latest promotional email* to reach, by coincidence, my own Parliamentary account over the last few days as an example of the continuing practises used by leading high street practises.
[*From Optical Express]
Finally I would like to take the opportunity to strongly urge you to meet with long-term campaigner for the effective regulation of refractive eye surgery, Sasha Rodoy.
I have worked closely with Sasha, who having suffered the debilitating effects of surgical malpractice now runs a free advisory service for other patients who have suffered as a result of clinical malpractice within the industry.
Sasha would be able to provide you with the important perspective of a patient which none of us present at our last meeting were able to. I understand she has written to you on this subject.
John McDonnell MP'
The response John received from Dan Poulter proved that he’d had no intention of meeting with me!
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And his reference to ‘cosmetic refractive surgery’ simply shocking given that Poulter is a GMC registered doctor, who one would expect to know better than his colleague Jeremy Hunt that refractive eye surgery is NOT cosmetic!
I discussed this with Harminder Dua a few weeks later, and even he had to be corrected, eventually conceding that I was right, but saying that it is sold as cosmetic surgery.
Possibly the last time I agreed with a Royal College of Ophthalmologists trustee!
More to come...
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