Father fears for his daughter’s eyesight after NHS delay

A FATHER fears his daughter’s eyesight may have been irreversibly damaged after she had to wait months for a specialist appointment on the NHS.

Fuad Mohammed, from Stepney, is furious that major problems with the booking system at Barts and The London NHS Trust meant a rare eye condition in his two-year-old, Shakila, was left untreated.

He eventually resorted to taking Shakila to a private doctor who immediately diagnosed her with aniridia – a condition which makes her partially sighted and means she must wear protective glasses in any natural light.

Mr Mohammed told the Advertiser: “We don’t know if there’s been any long-term damage to Shakila’s eyes. She wasn’t wearing the glasses she needed for so long and they can’t say there’s not been any deterioration of the eye.

“I’m very angry and I don’t want any other family to have to go through this.”

Aniridia is the absence of the iris.

It is a rare condition that babies can be born with and affects one in 75,000.

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The main symptoms are enlarged pupils which making the eyes appear black and a squint.

Shakila was born in October 2008 but was not diagnosed with the condition until August 2009.

When she was a few months old, her parents became concerned that she did not smile when she saw them.

In May 2009, a nurse noticed Shakila had a squint and the following month she was referred for tests by a GP.

But after weeks of waiting, the GP told the family there were “significant problems” with the ‘Choose and Book’ system to get Shakila an appointment and admitted the system would not load her details.

Fearful they had already waited too long, Mr Mohammed took Shakila to the private practice in August.

He added: “We got so frustrated. The trust later said if Shakila had pale eyes aniridia would have been easier to spot. There are so many babies with darker eyes so what does that mean?”

There is currently a joint investigation between NHS Tower Hamlets and Barts and The London NHS Trust.

The trust said aniridia is not easy to find in newborns as tend to have they have darker eyes than older children.

It added there was a three week delay because of “technical issues” with the online system and said the GP later booked the slot by letter.

A spokeswoman said: “Shakila’s appointment was booked for September 30 – nine weeks after her GP’s referral and well within the government’s target of 13 weeks.

“She was allocated a non-urgent appointment as squints are routinely found among infants and would pose no immediate threat to health, or pain and distress to the child.”