20 September 2019
Source: The Macular Society
Leading eye charity the Macular Society has welcomed a decision to strike off high profile Harley Street ophthalmologist Bobby Qureshi for lying to patients about being able to restore their sight.
Following a hearing by the Medical Practitioners’ Tribunal Service which ended this week, Mr Qureshi was banned by the General Medical Council (GMC) from practising as a doctor for at least five years.
Mr Qureshi carried out eye operations to implant his patented lenses into dozens of patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), including EastEnders actress June Brown. The Tribunal heard complaints from 24 patients, 20 of whom were referred to the GMC by the Macular Society.
The Tribunal found Mr Qureshi made false claims that he could improve vision by his surgery and allowed the use of pressure selling techniques to persuade patients to undergo the surgery. Among the claims that Mr Qureshi made to patients were that they would be able to ‘drive a car’ again.
Another patient was told that ‘reading the newspaper would be much easier,’ following the surgery. The tribunal said this was not true and that Mr Qureshi knew it was not true.
The surgeon also faced further accusations over a claim published about his procedure for AMD in paid-for national newspaper advertisements, which made direct and indirect claims that vision affected by wet and dry AMD could be improved with the lens implant. The Tribunal found the advert to be unsubstantiated and misleading.
Mr Qureshi charged patients up to £24,000 for treatment in both eyes.
The Macular Society submitted a complaint to the GMC in 2017 after receiving more than 50 telephone calls to its Advice and Information Service complaining about Mr Qureshi. The Society was concerned Mr Qureshi had cheated patients and was operating on people inappropriately.
Cathy Yelf, chief executive of the Macular Society, said: “We welcome the decision to stop Mr Qureshi practising as a doctor. The GMC found that he repeatedly misled people about the benefits they would get from his lens implant and he charged them many thousands of pounds knowing that he could not restore their sight.
“It has been deeply distressing and very shocking that a doctor could be found to put profit ahead of his patients’ safety and wellbeing to the extent that Mr Qureshi did. He exploited extremely vulnerable people who were desperate to save their sight, knowing that he could not deliver on his promises. These people were willing to spend their life savings because they believed he could help them keep and even restore their sight. It is truly heart breaking that they were given such false hope.”
Macular disease is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK. Nearly 1.5 million people are currently affected and many more are at risk. The disease can have a devastating effect on people’s lives, leaving them unable to drive, read or see faces. Many people affected describe losing their sight as being similar to bereavement. There is still no cure and most types of the disease are not treatable. AMD is the most common form of macular disease, affecting more than 600,000 people, usually over the age of 50.
Following Mr Qureshi’s erasure, the Macular Society is repeating its calls for significant funding to be committed to clinical research into macular disease. The charity is also calling on people considering undergoing treatments claiming to improve or cure their condition to check their safety and legitimacy before agreeing to any procedures.
Cathy added: “We would strongly urge anyone thinking of undergoing any new treatment purporting to reverse the effects of macular disease to speak to their own macular specialist or contact our Advice and Information Service to check that it is safe. At present, there is not enough evidence to know how useful lens implants might be for people with macular disease and more research is needed in this area. The Macular Society is funding a new clinical trial, starting later this year in Northern Ireland, which will test a new type of implanted magnifying lens for people with advanced macular disease.
“Sadly, there is no cure for macular disease and some forms are still not treatable at all. There is an urgent need for more research funding so that we can find genuinely effective treatments for macular disease that will end it once and for all.”
For general information on macular disease, call the Macular Society on 0300 3030 111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org