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Private cataract surgeries available soon in Newfoundland and Labrador, health minister says

John Haggie, minister of health and community services.
John Haggie, minister of health and community services. - Barb Sweet file photo/The Telegram
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Health Minister John Haggie says private clinics will soon be able to perform cataract surgery. 

Haggie says money has been allocated and the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association has agreed to a program to allow the surgeries to take place in private clinics. 

Haggie said there are some details left to work out about accrediting doctors to perform the surgery, but he hopes the matters will be resolved soon.

“I hope we’re only weeks away from being able to move on this,” he said. 

“The money is there.”

Haggie says recent retirements had made access to the surgeries more difficult. 

“We have an access issue at the moment. Some of the access issue, in actual fact, is being driven by retirement. We’ve had three ophthalmologists over the course of the last 18 months who have stopped doing cataract surgeries as their careers and practice winds down. We will fill that gap, then on top of that we will look at other access demand,” said Haggie. 

“The idea is that … we will do more because there’s a need to do more.”

Patients can wait as long as a year and a half for cataract surgery in this province. 

Haggie announced in January the intention to allow private clinics to provide the surgery. 

It’s estimated between 5,500 and 6,000 cataract surgeries are performed every year in the province. In question period on Wednesday, Haggie suggested 3,000 to 5,000 more surgeries could be performed after the changes are finalized.

The surgeries will still be performed at public health clinics after the private clinics are allowed to perform them.

david.maher@thetelegram.com
 

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