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Community Eyecare (CHEC), one of the largest providers of community-based ophthalmology services in the UK, has announced the upcoming launch of a new site in the Gateshead Metrocentre. The site is scheduled to open by March 2022.

The new treatment centre will provide vital ophthalmology services to the area, supporting the NHS in relieving intense pressures on its services, which includes a backlog of 16,000 patients for cataracts surgery and 30,000 outpatients in ophthalmology.

Currently, there are almost six million people waiting for NHS treatment and Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, has warned waiting lists could reach as much as 13 million. Ophthalmology has faced particularly long waitlists during the pandemic with a 40% reduction in cataracts surgery being performed and over half a million people now waiting for ophthalmology services in the UK.

By offering ophthalmology services right in the heart of Gateshead, CHEC will play a key role in reducing this strain on local NHS services while also providing patients with access to the vital treatment that they need. The North East and Yorkshire region has experienced a 34% reduction in routine elective care referrals, including for cataracts surgery, during the pandemic. This new site will offer the region crucial support on easing these backlogs and ensuring all patients are seen quickly. This new launch also follows several other recent site openings, including Nottingham and Coventry.

Imran Rahman, CEO of Community Eyecare said: “We are delighted to be working with the Metrocentre to open the new site in Gateshead. The new service will enable us to support the NHS by easing the burden of extensive backlogs that have built up during the pandemic. Giving back to the community is something that is very important to all of us at CHEC and this new opening will allow us to provide the North East region with crucial support ensuring that patients can be seen more quickly.”

Ben Cox of Sovereign Centros, Senior Asset Manager for Metrocentre, added: “This letting is representative of the strategy to introduce alternative uses, such as medical services, as part of the evolution of our tenant mix. With over 9,000 free car parking spaces, extended opening hours and fantastic connectivity to public transport, Metrocentre is ideally placed to accommodate service uses such as CHEC.  We look forward to welcoming them to the Blue Mall in Spring 2022.”

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