Eye patients at Bideford Community Hospital will now enjoy a greatly enhanced service thanks to a generous £30,000 donation from the hospital’s League of Friends.
The donation has enabled the hospital to buy an ocular coherence tomography-angiography (or OCTA) machine. This equipment takes pictures of back of the eye, and is a key diagnostic tool for diagnosing a number of conditions.
It is used for medical retina patients (the angiography part of machine, which allows more in-depth analysis) and diagnosing wet age-related macular degeneration, a common condition among older patients.
It will also allow more glaucoma monitoring clinics to take place.
Muhammad Ruzzaq, Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust’s Lead Clinician Ophthalmology, said: “We have a large number of patients with eye conditions within Bideford. This new piece of equipment will mean that we can see more patients locally rather than at North Devon District Hospital.
“In Bideford we are now able to run clinics five days a week, instead of the one or two we were able to run previously.
“We are immensely grateful to the League of Friends for this donation. They made a particular request for the money to be used specifically for eye clinic, and so we recommended the equipment that we felt would have the biggest benefit for patients.”
He added: “COVID-19 has impacted on our waiting lists and we know eye conditions in particular need to be addressed to avoid irreversible loss of sight. This donation will help us to see more patients and see them closer to home.”
Rita Ely, Secretary Friends of Bideford Hospital, said: “We want to be proud of our hospital and make it a much brighter and pleasant place to be. We want to be able to help reduce the time taken to treat patients, enabling the doctors and nurses to work more efficiently to that aim.
“We received a large donation from the family of Miss Annie Weeks of £30,000, with which we have been able to purchase the optical coherence tomography machine. This machine will speed up the treatment of macular degeneration, allowing patients more comfort and easier information for the doctors.
“We would like to keep the hospital looking welcoming for Bideford patients, and hope that the public will continue to support us. We would welcome new members and if you are interested, please telephone, 01237 700286 or 01271 372593.”
Miss Weeks was a patient of the hospital who died in 2015. Members her family, including her nephew Jim, attended an informal ceremony to unveil the new equipment.