Local, News

More ophthalmologists for Far North Queensland

Far North Queensland patients requiring retinal surgery will be spared the travel to metropolitan areas for treatment following the arrival of two new surgeons to the region.

Experienced Brisbane-based ophthalmologists Dr Mark Donaldson and Dr Michael Hogden will periodically travel Cairns to consult and operate at Cairns Day Surgery, providing a monthly service.

Their appointment takes the hospital’s total number of eye specialists to nine. The surgery is part of Ramsay Health Care, which is claimed to be Australia’s largest private health operator with more than 100 hospitals in Australia, Europe and Indonesia.

“I’m extrely supportive of the increased specialised services to the region for patients who otherwise would have to travel to receive this care,” Ramsay Cairns CEO Mr Ben Tooth said.

Donaldson, who will perform retinal surgery, started at the hospital earlier this month. He has more than 19 years of experience and specialises in the treatment of diseases and disorders of the retina, vitreous and macula, including retinal detachment, tears and vein occlusions. He also consults privately at Cairns Eye Surgery.

Hogden’s appointment will help expand the ophthalmology services at the surgery. A vitreoretinal surgeon, he received his training in Queensland before pursuing additional retinal training in New York, the UK and North America.

He also consults at Cairns Eye and Laser Centre, holds a public appointment as a consultant vitreoretinal surgeon at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and is a senior lecturer at the University of Queensland. His main specialty areas include retinal detachment and tears, inherited retinal disease and complex cataract surgery requiring vitreoretinal intervention.

Enhanced access to private eyecare in Far North Queensland has come during a turbulent period for the region’s public ophthalmic sector.

In April, ophthalmologist Dr Michael Karpa blew the whistle on what he claimed were unacceptable waiting times for cataract patients at Cairns Hospital, stating some public patients were waiting up to six years to receive surgery.

The Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, which operates the hospital, rejected the claims, insisting patients are operated on within the recommended time frames.