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Eye Surgery

Volume 598: debated on Tuesday 7 July 2015

4. For what reasons his Department categorises corrective refractive eye surgery for medical purposes as cosmetic surgery. (900779)

The Department does not categorise refractive laser eye surgery for medical purposes as cosmetic surgery. Laser eye surgery is regulated through providers registered with the Care Quality Commission. Doctors carrying out the surgery must be registered with the General Medical Council and, like all doctors, they must recognise and work within their competence.

My constituent Mr Shabir Ahmed, whom I have visited, was repeatedly recommended, by the optician he went to for his NHS eye test, to have an eye operation involving complex refractive laser surgery. Over two years, the optician called him every month, bringing the price down until it was half what it was originally. It did not work out: the surgery led to a significant deterioration in his eyesight, and the company denies all responsibility and liability. It seems to me—

Mr Speaker, please bear with me for two sentences. Surgery as complex as that needs the same kind of regulation as if it were in hospital.

There are two parts to my hon. Friend’s question. The first is about the high-pressure tactics employed by providers. They will be covered by the new regulations brought in on 1 April by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove (Sajid Javid), who is now the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, by which we have given powers to the Information Commissioner. I suggest that my hon. Friend refers his question to our right hon. Friend. On the second point about failed procedures, refractive eye surgery operators are governed by the same regulators as hospitals, and achieve exactly the end that my hon. Friend wishes.

The regulatory procedures are not working. Ten years ago, our late colleague Frank Cook introduced a ten-minute rule Bill calling for regulatory reform, and I reintroduced that Bill three years ago. The Keogh report called for regulatory reform two and a half years ago, and nothing has happened. People are losing their eyesight as a result of some of the companies operating in this field. Will the Minister meet me and the hon. Member for Watford (Richard Harrington) to talk about progress in this field?

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is not right. Progress has been made. Ten years ago, that might not have been the case, but the Care Quality Commission was strengthened under the previous Government and it is regulating refractive eye surgery. Moreover, the doctors who perform those operations are regulated by the General Medical Council, and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists is bringing forward a certification scheme because of the moves that were taken by the last Government.