FINANCE: A group of trusts that provide specialist eye treatment have written to NHS England to express concern over the future of funding for the treatment of a rare eye condition.

The trusts are worried that new rules set out in April for the funding of anti-tumour necrosis factor alpha drugs for an eye condition called uveitis would mean they are no longer able to access funding for the drugs.

Moorfields Eye Hospital Foundation Trust, along with other specialist centres, have written to NHS England.  

A note in Moorfields’ May board papers said that a “new process” adopted by NHS England “would affect all providers of these treatments” and would mean that “a very robust standard of evidence” would be required before funding was given.

The trust is concerned that the standard of evidence required by NHS England would “probably be impossible” to achieve because of the small number of patients affected with the condition.

It was noted by Sir Peng Tee Khaw, director of research and development at Moorfields, that the treatment of rare diseases was one of the trust’s “key areas of expertise” and that the “loss of our ability to treat these patients would be devastating”.

Uveitis is an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye. The main treatment of uveitis is steroid medication, which can reduce inflammation inside the eye. Anti-TNF alpha drugs are used when a patients’ condition proves resistant to the more common steroid treatment.

A spokeswoman for Moorfields said: “Moorfields Eye Hospital Foundation Trust is part of an English network of specialist centres working constructively with NHS England to maintain access to systemic anti-TNF alpha drugs for uncommon inflammatory eye conditions, and to develop an aligned policy which benefits patients.”