Family fights for return of sight-saving money

PUBLISHED: 08:03 23 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:51 06 May 2010

A GREAT-grandmother deaf from childhood who was denied funding to save her eyesight has successfully applied to have the decision reversed. But now Maureen Russell s son Simon is campaigning for a refund of the £2,500 the family has spent on private treat

A GREAT-grandmother deaf from childhood who was denied funding to save her eyesight has successfully applied to have the decision reversed.

But now Maureen Russell's son Simon is campaigning for a refund of the £2,500 the family has spent on private treatment to stop the condition worsening.

Mrs Russell, aged 88, of Park Street, has macular degeneration in both eyes but it is the wet form of the condition in her right eye which is treatable. Her other eye - in which she has the dry version of the disease - will also get worse with age but degenerate much more slowly.

NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) recently ruled that a drug, Lucentis, used in its treatment should be made available on the NHS but said Mrs Russell was not eligible for treatment due to a small amount of scarring on her right eye.

Simon, aged 43, of Nelson Avenue, St Albans, said: "Her consultant could not believe she had been refused funding and advised us to appeal the decision which we have.

"We are delighted that the PCT has changed its mind but we feel we should be refunded the money we had to spend because of the aggressive nature of the disease. Mum would probably have lost her sight by Christmas had we not acted fast."

He maintained that it would have been a false economy if she had been left to go blind as it would have meant she would have needed full-time care.

He has written to the West Herts Primary Care Trust (PCT) asking for his family's money to be refunded.

The PCT declined to comment claiming they had not received his letter at the time of writing.

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