Reply to the Royal College of Ophthalmologists re: forced Covid testing of children

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Written by: Miri
September 15, 2021
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Original letter here

Dear [name],

Many thanks for your reply. 

It has become common practice throughout the NHS for patients to be informed their surgeries and other urgent appointments will be cancelled if they do not submit to COVID testing, and I personally have been contacted by at least fifty individuals to whom this has happened, and have heard of hundreds more.

In terms of ophthalmology, two families have reached out to me directly.

The hospitals in question were [hospital name], who threatened to withhold cataract surgery from an 8-week-old baby without COVID testing, and [hospital name], who cancelled the cataract operation of a 9-year-old cancer survivor (his cancer treatment having caused the cataracts) and refused to rearrange it unless the family submitted to COVID testing.

This was an immigrant family with English as a second language, which further complicated the situation. I helped the family write to the hospital to outline their legal rights to decline testing, to which the hospital responded by stating children's services would be contacted if the family did not go ahead with testing.

I wrote again to the hospital stating that if they continued with issuing this kind of threatening blackmail, legal action would immediately follow, at which point they backed down and agreed to do the surgery without testing, or contacting children's services. 

Clearly, an already traumatised family with a very vulnerable young son, and with the additional challenges of being non-native English speakers, being targeted and threatened like this is absolutely unacceptable. When I spoke with the family after the operation finally went ahead, they confirmed they were treated with great dignity and professionalism by the operating surgeon, who clearly had no idea about the ordeal they had been through to procure the surgery. 

If you feel it would be useful, I can contact these families and ask if they would be prepared to be put in touch with you directly. 

Otherwise, please let me know if you require any additional details. 

Many thanks for taking the time to further investigate this matter.

Best regards,

Miri

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