New NHS macular treatment centre in Taunton declared ‘officially open’
Patients who need regular eye injections to treat macular conditions in Taunton will no longer need to travel long distances for their appointments.
It follows the opening of a new macular treatment centre – located in the same building as the existing ophthalmology diagnostic centre at Harrison House on the Blackbrook Park Estate, just off the M5 in Taunton.
The ophthalmology diagnostic centre in Taunton opened in spring 2022 where people in Somerset with retinal conditions and glaucoma have been able to get all their tests in one place. A second diagnostic centre also opened at the Quedam Shopping Centre in Yeovil.
Building contractor Speller Metcalfe, who delivered both the Yeovil and Taunton projects in 2022, was also responsible for the completion of the new macular treatment centre.
Divisional director for the firm, Matthew Bailey, said: “We’re pleased to have continued out relationship with Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and work to provide this new state-of-the-art ophthalmology centre. Providing a purpose-built space for these treatments will really make a difference to patients. The NHS is one of our key clients and we know how much of an impact this new facility will have on the community.”
Much of the specialist equipment at the new macular treatment centre, which is run by Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, has been funded by global pharmaceutical company Bayer and the Musgrove Park Hospital League of Friends and its donors.
Mr Shantanu Gudsoorkar, Somerset FT’s consultant ophthalmic surgeon who specialises in macular diseases, was involved with both the diagnostic and treatment centre projects.
He said: “Our macular team at Musgrove Park Hospital provides vision saving eye injection treatment for patients with wet age-related macular degeneration, diabetic macular oedema and retinal vein occlusion.
“Over the last five years there has been a growing demand for the treatment of macular conditions in Somerset, because of an increasing elderly population and better diagnostic equipment within community-based and high street opticians.
“Our service currently gets 40 new referrals every month, and we have 2,500 patients under our care who need regular appointments and treatment – this is twice the number of patients since 2017.
“Our skilled macular nurse practitioners performed 12,000 injections in 2022, compared with 6000 in 2017 – showing the progressively rising demand for appointments and treatment which has doubled over the last five years.
“As a result, our macular service has outgrown the assessment and treatment areas in our eye clinic at Musgrove Park, without any scope for expansion.
“The available space in our existing ophthalmology diagnostic centre was the natural choice as our elderly visually-impaired patients could access it easily and it’s also future proofed to meet the increasing demand.”
Rachel Adams, our ophthalmology outpatient department senior sister, said:
“We now have two new consulting and treatment rooms at Harrison House, all purpose-built with high-quality air filtration technology.
“This is a real game changer for our patients as it means that over 300 patients a week can have their diagnostic investigations for macular, glaucoma, and macular treatment at Harrison House, instead of at a busy hospital, and we have capacity to expand this further over time.
“When Harrison House opened last spring, we futureproofed it to ensure we had that extra space that we could grow into, so this is our natural next step.
“Patients have told us that they like using Harrison House and find it accessible being just off the motorway, particularly with the free parking available. It’s also a nicer environment to work in.
“We’re so grateful to our pharmaceutical partners Bayer and the Musgrove Park Hospital League of Friends for their generous support and we’d also like to thank our construction partners, Speller Metcalfe, who have worked extremely hard to meet the deadline for both the diagnostic and treatment parts of the centre.”