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Eyesight: Surgery

Question for Department of Health

UIN 44573, tabled on 2 September 2016

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps he is taking to ensure high quality care is provided in the refractive eye surgery sector.

Answered on

12 September 2016

Providers of laser eye surgery are required to register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), as this is a regulated activity. All providers of regulated activities under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 must be registered with the CQC and meet the fundamental standards of safety and quality. The CQC has a range of enforcement actions that it can take if providers do not meet the fundamental standards. CQC inspectors take into account best practice and recognised guidelines, when undertaking inspections of providers.

The Department is consulting on extending the scope of CQC’s provider ratings to include providers of laser eye surgery. Ratings will give the public with clarity about how well these providers are performing above and beyond compliance with the requirements of the regulations.

Doctors performing laser eye surgery in the United Kingdom must also be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC). All registered doctors are expected to be familiar with the GMC’s publication Good medical practice and supporting guidance, which describes what is expected of them. This document makes clear that medical doctors must recognise and work within the limits of their competence.

Following a review of the cosmetic industry in England by Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, the GMC has produced guidance for doctors that carry out cosmetic procedures and this also applies to refractive eye surgery. The new GMC guidance covers both surgical (such as laser eye surgery) and non-surgical procedures.

In addition, as the professional body for setting the standards of practice for refractive procedures, the Royal College of Ophthalmologists are leading on work to improve the delivery, safety and standards for patient information for laser eye surgery.

The GMC expect a doctor to be up to date with the latest medical guidance, including any new guidance published by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists on laser eye surgery.