John McDonnell MP: Action needed to regulate laser eye surgery

John McDonnell explains how his 10 Minute Rule Bill today will prompt the Government to regulate the Laser Eye Surgery industry in the UK.

Labour’s John McDonnell explains how his 10 Minute Rule Bill today will prompt the Government to regulate the Laser Eye Surgery industry in the UK.

Statutory regulation of the Refractive (Laser) Eye Surgery Industry is necessary and long overdue. A worryingly large section of those currently practising Refractive Eye Surgery are failing to follow the quality standards developed by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

As a result numerous personal stories have come to light of people who have suffered debilitating repercussions of substandard care in the laser eye surgery industry. Good practitioners in this field believe that with proper regulation most of these problems could be overcome.

The non-binding standards set out by the Royal College were developed in light of public concern over patient safety but lack the statutory backing needed to successfully tackle bad practise within the industry.

The need for effective regulation has been explicitly called for in the recent Keogh report into the regulation of cosmetic interventions. The concerns that Keogh raises centre on the need for statutory regulation to replace the failing voluntary model. These concerns are shared by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the Royal College of Ophthalmologists as well as the Department of Health itself.

I am introducing a Ten Minute Rule Bill in Parliament on Wednesday the 20th of November aimed at securing Government action to tackle the current failings within the industry.

I am calling upon the Government to act swiftly to bring forward legislation to regulate the laser eye surgery industry. Eight years ago I supported similar proposals for legislation after we discovered incidences of pressurised sales tactics in this industry and poor standards of service. All these years on and not much has changed. There are too many stories of people having their eyesight damaged as a result of this surgery and too many reports of high pressure sales techniques still being used by companies to persuade people to buy laser eye surgery without enough explanation of the risks involved and then not enough after care when things do go wrong. It’s time now for the Government to act and bring forward statutory regulation. I am proposing a change in the law so that basic standards are adhered to in order to prevent people’s eyesight being put at risk.

The Bill provides for a comprehensive statutory, regulatory oversight. The issues covered include the creation of a register of practising surgeons, the establishment of contractual requirements, a focus on consent requirements aimed at tackling pressurised sales tactics, regulation of advertising claims and providing additional powers of inspection.

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