Cawston woman wins battle to have sight-saving injections funded by the NHS

A 27-year-old woman from Cawston who faced a bill of thousands of pounds to pay for an injection to save her sight was 'over the moon' today after winning an appeal to have her treatment funded on the NHS.

Vicky Smith, of Gayford Road, first noticed she was losing vision in her right eye in December 2009 and had been told because of her age she might have to get urgent treatment privately which could have cost more than �6,000.

She was diagnosed at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N) with punctate inner choroidopathy (PIC) - a condition which causes blood vessels to burst near the retina.

Predominantly occurring in short-sighted females aged between 18-40 it can be treated with a series of Avastin injections which are usually used to fight against age-related wet macular degeneration, primarily found in people over 50 years old.

And because the conditions are similar Miss Smith, a behaviour support worker in Earlham, Norwich, was offered the treatment but did not meet the criteria to receive it freely on the NHS.

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Her consultant ophthalmologist Andy Glenn submitted a funding application to the primary care trust (PCT), NHS Norfolk and Waveney, last month and when it was rejected the N&N team appealed the decision.

After receiving new information NHS Norfolk and Waveney granted Miss Smith's funding.

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'I can't believe it's taken this long to come up with a decision and I only hope that when I have my injection it will work and that there's not too much damage done already,' she said.

'The public response has been amazing. I found out that other people in the UK with similar problems to me have had their eyes done on the NHS. The PCT and NHS need to address this issue because sight funding should not be a postcode lottery but should be across the board.'

Miss Smith will start her first course of treatment tomorrow (Tuesday).

She added: 'It's a huge relief. Just knowing that firstly I can get the treatment and secondly the need to fight for it has gone. This should never have been a case we were fighting for.

'We will continue to look at finding more information and finding out more support networks for people who find themselves in the same situation.'

A spokesman for NHS Norfolk and Waveney said although they were unable to comment on any individual or their treatment, they had informed the patient's clinician of the outcome, following consideration of new information provided to them.

The medical director of NHS Norfolk and Waveney Dr Alistair Lipp said: 'It is important that everyone understands the NHS does not routinely fund certain drugs or treatments for which there is no robust evidence of effectiveness or cost effectiveness. Nevertheless we are always willing to consider proposals for treatment which may be exceptional. We always review these decisions if and when we are provided with new information.'

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