Donation could save sight of babies

Leading health care cash plan provider Sovereign Health Care has donated £12,000 towards Harrogate District Hospital’s Ophthalmology Department’s purchase of a RetCam3 that could result in the sight of babies and children potentially being saved.

The RetCam3 can save the sight of a premature baby through detecting a condition called Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) or detect a rare but treatable cancer of the eye in under-5s called Retinoblastoma.

It can also supply detailed imagery for full-term babies which provides a baseline for any further examination; detect the subtle damage associated with shaken baby syndrome; allow for sharing of images with other clinical teams; and reduce the need for a baby and their family to take the stressful journey by ambulance to York, Leeds or Hull hospitals.

Harrogate Hospital and Community Charity (HHCC), which raises money to help make a difference to the care and experiences of local patients and their families, is leading the fundraising for the purchase of the RetCam3.

Sammy Lambert from the Harrogate Hospital and Community Charity said: “We’re incredibly grateful to Sovereign Health Care for their generous donation towards this potentially sight and life-saving equipment. The total amount needed to purchase the RetCam3 is £94,080, and with the support of Sovereign Health Care, we have now raised £92,500, so we are now just £1,500 away from our target.

“Around 2,000 babies are born in Harrogate District Hospital every year, with many requiring an Ophthalmologist to examine their eyes, either as a standard procedure or on the basis that there may be a specific need, such as ROP or Retinoblastoma.

“The purchase of a RetCam3 to support and enhance the service they already provide for 0-5-year-olds, including premature babies, is something the Ophthalmology Team at Harrogate District Hospital has highlighted the need for in the past four years. This donation brings that within much easier reach.”

Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust is the principal provider of hospital services to the population of Harrogate and Rural District and North East and West Leeds. This represents a catchment population in excess of 250,000, which is still increasing in relation to North and West Leeds.

In addition, the organisation also serves a wider population with community services across North Yorkshire, and children’s services in the North East in County Durham, Darlington, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, Gateshead and Sunderland.

Sovereign Health Care’s Community Programme Co-ordinator, Jan Fortune, said: “We’re more than happy to be able to make this donation towards the RetCam3 purchase.

“With there currently being no RetCam3 at Harrogate District Hospital, it means that babies and children with suspected eye conditions or even signs of life-threatening diseases sometimes have to travel as far as Hull with their families – which is a 100-mile roundtrip – to benefit from a RetCam3.

“We’re glad to be able to do our bit in giving back to the community and helping secure this vital provision for the thousands of families in the Harrogate District Hospital catchment.”

Bradford-based Sovereign Health Care celebrated its 145th anniversary last year and is one of the UK’s longest established providers of health care cash plans to individuals and businesses, with nearly 75,000 customers across the UK.