Newly blind people not offered support

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New research has found that more than 50% of eye hospitals do not offer practical or emotional support to individuals who have been informed that they are losing their sight. Tens of thousands of people are left feeling abandoned every year after they have been told that their sight cannot be saved.

Representatives at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) stated that NHS eye clinics are at capacity. This leaves the nurses and doctors with very little time to discuss adaptation guidelines with patients who lost their sight.

Research has found that out of the 400 plus eye clinics and hospitals throughout the UK, only 218 have support staff available.

The RNIB has said that every special hospital should have support staff available to provide a helping hand to patients who have been newly diagnosed. They need to be provided with accessible information and have someone who can offer them support in their time of need. The study indicated that less than 10% of newly diagnosed people are being offered counselling.

Researchers stated that even basic information was not being provided as clinics struggle to cope with the aging population in Britain. Around 25% of the patients leave hospital without knowing the exact eye condition they are suffering with.

The RNIB’s Chief Executive, Lesley-Anne Alexander, said that in the UK someone starts sight loss every 15 minutes, but they do not always have access to even the most basic practical and emotional support during this time. The charity has issued their concern about the effect funding constraints has had on patients.

Ms Alexander stated that being advised that you are in the process of losing your sight is an extremely traumatic experience. Everyone reacts in a different way and should not have to face this prospect alone and without any support.

The RNIB has today launched a campaign, the ‘I am here’ appeal, to raise the awareness of the importance related to the provision of early emotional support. The organisation is urging the public to sign their petition which is calling for every eye clinic to provide a suitable sight loss advisor to patients by 2019.

Image credit: Howard Lake

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