A Stitch In Time – Simon Lucas thinks the NHS is invaluable!

Surgeon and Team
Surgeon and Team

In Simon Lucas’s opinion, criticism of the NHS in unfair. He has nothing but praise for the Birmingham & Midland Eye Centre after receiving treatment for an eye injury:

According to some, the NHS is an ageing concern, lumbering along with endless waiting lists and the possibility of coming out far worse than when you went in.
The media are often quick to pick up on the horror stories and report sensationally when something goes wrong. But where are the positive stories? Who is reporting the good that goes on? Are there any positive stories out there to tell?

Eye Injury

Some years ago, I was unfortunate enough to receive a blow to my right eye from a large cooking apple, and then days later, a sports injury in the same spot did more damage. I suffered slightly blurred vision but nothing more. I moved to the West Midlands and over time, the injury in my right eye led to rising pressures which could not be controlled with medication.

My doctor referred me to the Birmingham & Midland Eye Centre and I had an appointment with Professor Phil Murray (a specialist in uveitis) and Professor Pete Shah (a specialist in eye pressures).

The outcome was that the pressure in my right eye was over 70, apparently the second highest Pete Shah has come across to date. With nearly a thousand operations under his belt since 1999, that’s quite alarming.

My vision was still relatively good but the race was on to maintain that standard. I was whisked into theatre within days, and spent a week on Ward C in the Birmingham & Midland Eye Centre.

No Guarantees


Like many operations nothing is guaranteed, and with the eye, complications can lead to all kinds of sight threatening dilemmas.
My initial operation was a success, however my eye took a little while to restore its pressure and two injections of gel into the eye ball were later required.

The success rate of my particular operation is 50-60% due to various factors like my young age and the damage my eye had received. However, Pete Shah has an overall high success rate of this type of operation due to his skill, knowledge, great support team and the dedicated aftercare provided in this busy hub.
While on the ward, I witnessed an incredible team effort from attentive and caring nurses, working relentlessly day and night, looking after people from all walks of life and some more difficult that others.

Men, women and children are admitted to BMEC from all over the Midlands. Other hospitals send patients to Birmingham for complex treatments that cannot be carried out elsewhere. Several professors and senior specialists work between private, NHS and MOD patients from the smallest to the mightiest of challenges.

Training, Research and Care

Over five days I witnessed fourteen other male patients come and go via just four beds, which were religiously cleaned and changed every day. Even the tops of pictures, railings and underneath cupboards are cleaned and the infection rates at the hospital are low.

Glaucoma as a disease, is mysteriously more prevalent in Afro Caribbean males, and Birmingham is at the forefront of medical research in this field.
Professor Pete Shah is working hard to get some insight into why this may be and what can be done in the future to address this cruel disease. Professor Phil Murray (an avid Jazz enthusiast) is also undertaking cutting edge research into uveitis treatments, whilst helping to keep the perpetual production line of patients moving.

Make no mistake, the people of Birmingham and the Midlands region are extremely lucky to have such a diverse and dedicated team of professionals busying away in a multi-cultural part of the city.

Birmingham & Midland Eye Centre has almost 200 years of experience in treating eye disease and is a leading centre for training and research, those who have trained in Birmingham take their invaluable knowledge to the four corners of the world.

Over 30 skilled specialists beaver away in one of the busiest eye centres in Europe. BMEC have everything under one roof. Parking is rarely a problem, although, after speaking with other patients, accident and emergency (and resources) are definitely over stretched at times, with some pretty long and frustrating waits on occasion.

However, once you have been seen and if you are admitted, you can see a specialist and have any necessary scans taken.

Then, it’s a short trip upstairs to the ward, and an even shorter journey to the operating theatre in extreme cases like mine. The hospital is exceptionally busy and could definitely do with a larger A&E (and some more beds).

Looking To The Future

One can only hope that in years to come, should you, I or any of our friends and family need specialist eye treatment, Birmingham & Midland Eye Centre will still be a bastion for training, research and care, maybe even larger with more modern facilities?

The people of Birmingham and the Midlands should be proud to have this facility right at the heart of their region. I know I am! I have now run 9 half marathons, 1 full marathons and an arduous hill run all thanks to the NHS who saved my sight!

Article for Simon Lucas.