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20 years of performing cataracts

Gayton Road Health Centre celebrates 20 years of Cataract Surgery - Cataract surgeron John Bolger with the cake and staff involved past and present over the last 20 years. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Gayton Road Health Centre celebrates 20 years of Cataract Surgery - Cataract surgeron John Bolger with the cake and staff involved past and present over the last 20 years. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2016

An eye clinic is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first time cataract surgery was performed in a GP setting in England rather than in a hospital.

John Bolger and the late Dr David Bartlett launched the service at the Gayton Road health centre in King’s Lynn on February 22, 1996. It was then just a monthly clinic, but it’s now every Wednesday and, occasionally, a Saturday clinic.

Mr Bolger, an ophthalmic surgeon, is still performing the operation at the Norfolk Surgical and Diagnostic Centres’ cataract clinic in Gayton Road, which has performed over 6,600 cataracts.

Mr Bolger said: “The practice at that time was very forward looking. I knew it was the right thing to do, and best for GP practices to provide the service rather than hospitals. At first we only treated patients from the practice, but then patients started coming from other practices. It also paved the way for other walk-in clinics in the UK.

“The clinic has gone from strength to strength. Frank Dobson, the former Health Minister recognised this innovative approach to cataract surgery when he presented us with an award for medical innovation in 1998. We have plans to get new equipment and expand.”

Dr Bartlett had witnessed how cataracts were performed outside of hospitals as chief medical officer on Anguilla in the Leeward Islands in the 1970s, which led to him pioneering the service within his Lynn GP practice.

The launch helped to increase patient choice, lessen pressure on over-stretched hospital facilities plus reduce patient waiting times.

Patient Mike Willis, from the Grange estate in King’s Lynn, said: “I chose to have the cataract surgery here rather than at the Queen Elizabeth hospital. It’s handy and it’s got a good reputation.”

Are you celebrating a landmark anniversary where you live or work? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk


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