Artist has to fund own eye operation

Heath Rosselli was told the NHS would not fund her cataract operations.
Picture Mark Westley ANL-161005-170832009
Heath Rosselli was told the NHS would not fund her cataract operations. Picture Mark Westley ANL-161005-170832009

An artist has had to pay for an eye operation to be able to work after the NHS refused to fund it.

Heath Rosselli, who has had work in the Louvre, was refused cataract operations even though her eyesight had deteriorated so she could not see details or colours.

The Worlington artist had been told for some time that she had the beginnings of cataracts in both eyes, but it was in November that it was confirmed that the NHS would not operate on them.

“Because of my livelihood I could make an appeal,” she said. She did that but was turned down in March.

“It would be reviewed in six months, but I can’t go six months without work, ”she said. Apart from the lack of income, it would mean she could not keep up her reputation.

She explained: “I normally show in London but I can’ show this year because I haven’t enough stuff, and that always brings in commissions.”

She has now paid to have one eye done and will have the other done in June, with the total bill being almost £5,000.

“I can see completely different colours in the eye that has been done,” she said. “With the one that hasn’t been done, it’s all muddy.

“People get breast reductions and all sorts of things on the NHS – how can that be more important than anyone who’s got to have their eyes, or any other part, good enough for their job?”

A spokesman for NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The CCG considers all requests for cataract surgery, recognizing the impact that cataracts can have on an individual’s quality of life.

“Like every CCG, West Suffolk has set clinically evidenced criteria to ensure fair access to services, with each patient being assessed to determine their level of vision and the impact the condition is having on daily activities.

“Where a patient does not meet the criteria for cataract surgery and the clinician believes they have exceptional circumstances, the clinician can apply for individual funding, which will be assessed by a panel of health experts.”