A LEADING North-East hospital has invested in its vision to become an eye care centre of excellence for both NHS and private patients.

Darlington-based Woodlands Hospital – part of Circle Healthcare – is building on its growing reputation for pioneering treatment by launching Woodlands Ophthalmology Service.

The latest development at the hospital follows the huge success it has enjoyed since it began leasing the Stryker Mako robot in 2019 – revolutionising joint replacement surgery for patients across the North-East and beyond.

That was followed last year – the hospital’s 20th anniversary – with the introduction of the state-of-the-art Smith & Nephew robot, specialising in knee and hip replacements.

Mark Bythway, Sales Marketing and Outpatients Manager, said: “The development of the eye care centre is a further vote of confidence in Woodlands Hospital following on from our phenomenal success with the robotic surgery.

“We have clearly demonstrated that if we develop a niche, quality product, backed up with first-class service, people will come from near and far.”

The hospital’s executive director, Debbie Dobbs, has overseen a dramatic expansion since she took over 15 years ago. Woodlands had two clean-air theatres at the time, before an ambulatory care theatre was added six years ago.

Now “Theatre 4” has been created in the former radiology department, with investment in a clean-air flow and a range of state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment. They include an Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) machine that can view the health of the eye in minute detail.

Experts at the centre are mainly dealing with cataract surgery and treating glaucoma for both NHS and private patients.

The hospital has a team of five ophthalmologists – with plans to bring in another three – and two specialist nurses have also been recruited.

“We are looking at continuous development, and it is our ambition to create a centre for excellence that makes Woodlands Hospital the go-to place for eye care. As the service develops, and word spreads, there is every chance that we will be creating more jobs,” added Mark.

As part of its expansion programme, the hospital has recently recruited four international health care professionals.

An open day is being planned at the hospital for the near future and, in the meantime, staff are keen to hear from anyone who may be interested in using the services.

To find out more, go to www.circlehealthgroup.co.uk/hospitals/woodlands-hospital/private-eye-surgery-darlington or call (01325) 341700.