Letter: Doctors praised hospital ship

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The Independent Online
IT IS simply not true that British surgeons condemn the Floks eye hospital ship as claimed in your article (''British surgeons condemn Russian eye ship'', 13 November). We have had patients at the ship who were recommended to come by their consultants. Indeed, after the visit of a team of British eye specialists who were invited to the ship to learn about Russian methods and watch operations, Professor Alistair Fielder told BBC Radio's In Touch programme: ``Their standard of surgery is quite excellent and the patient must have the freedom of choice to go wherever he or she chooses.''

According to your article, Professor Fielder's main criticism of Floks now is that without the return of British patients to the ship for after-care it is impossible to assess their complication rate for operations. But nor can British hospitals assess complication rates for patients who travel from abroad. We have had a medical malpractice insurance with Lloyd's since 1989 and there has never been a claim.

At the Moscow Institute of Eye Microsurgery, the largest eye hospital in the world, treating more than 300,000 patients a year, every treatment has been subjected to the most rigorous trials. Every treatment by its doctors on the Floks ship is of proven worth. The particular intracapsular cataract operation mentioned in the article, from the report of the British team to Floks, is not used on Floks. It was under discussion ``for use in the future''. The British report says the visiting team ``saw some merit in this proposal''.

Your article also neglected to mention that the British group thought results for the treatment of myopia ``quite exceptional'' and that Professor Fielder's report calls for future collaborative studies and European clinical trials on a number of Russian methods. Why are his team not pursuing this aim rather than rejecting the hand of friendship extended by the Russian doctors?

Gilly McKay

Floks Eye Clinic

Nicosia, Cyprus