Covid: Anglesey man 'almost blind' after cataract eye op wait

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Media caption,

Terry Thomas is struggling to care for June Lavelle-Lepsa and fears she could end up in hospital

A man is struggling to care for his seriously ill partner after waiting years for a simple cataract operation left him almost blind.

Terry Thomas, 72, from Menai Bridge on Anglesey, lost the sight in his right eye when he was 21.

He was told two and a half years ago he needed surgery on his left eye but it has been repeatedly cancelled.

Betsi Cadwaladr University health board apologised and said Covid-19 had disrupted its services.

Mr Thomas initially waited 18 months for the 20-minute operation in February but it was cancelled the day it was due to happen and rescheduled for 23 March.

However the UK's coronavirus lockdown began that day and Mr Thomas' operation was cancelled again. He has now been told the doctor due to perform the surgery has left.

Image caption,
Terry Thomas cares for his partner June Lavelle-Lepsa

Mr Thomas' partner June Lavelle-Lepsa, also 72, has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease which has progressed rapidly, and she now uses a wheelchair and is unable to speak.

His deteriorating eyesight has even resulted in him giving his partner the wrong medication.

"It's extremely difficult," Mr Thomas, a retired lecturer in forest economy, said.

"I can't read anything. I'm responsible for giving her her medication. Already I've given her the wrong medication on a couple of occasions because I can't see it."

Since her diagnosis, Ms Lavelle-Lepsa has received "fantastic" care and home adaptations, Mr Thomas said.

But in contrast, Mr Thomas feels the way his condition has been dealt with is "inept, totally inept".

"It's making me angry, cross and very, very disappointed."

Mr Thomas' GP has contacted the eye service to stress the pressing need for the operation, and Mr Thomas visited Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor in person to explain the situation.

He said the staff he spoke to there were "profusely apologetic" but said: "You've got no care. Your consultant doesn't work here any more and we can't find anyone to do it".

With his partner's health deteriorating further, Mr Thomas says the need for his cataract to be sorted out is greater than ever.

"It's making very day that much more difficult and that much more frustrating for her," he said.

Arpan Guha, acting executive medical director at Betsi Cadwaladr health board, said: "We apologise to Mr Thomas for the delay to his surgery.

"We understand this is an upsetting time for our patients who are experiencing longer waits than anticipated due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Covid-19 has caused disruption to our services and we are working hard to prioritise our waiting lists so that we can offer patients access to treatments.

"However, regrettably, some patients will experience longer waits to be seen for their treatment."

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