Published on: 5 December 2023

An organisation which was the forerunner to the NHS has backed its future work with a donation fuelled by first-hand experiences of a specialist hospital’s care.

Sunderland Eye Infirmary has welcomed a pledge from The Oddfellows after a number of its members sung the praises of its treatment.

It is the only hospital of its kind in the North East and is set to continue its work at a new base in Sunderland City Centre.

Work is due to start soon and it is expected to take around two years to complete, with the new location set to see all of its services moved across from the Queen Alexandra Road site.

This will include the Regional Cataract Centre, theatres, its own Emergency Department, macular care and glaucoma clinics.

Its teams also have a focus on research to help develop new treatments, with Artificial Intelligence being used to look at potential outcomes for patients, while gene therapy is at the centre of a study working to find a cure for dry macular degeneration.

The £1,000 donation by the Hartlepool-based Oddfellows group is set to support its research work.

Members of The Oddfellows with staff from Sunderland Eye Infirmary as the group gifted a cash donation to support its research work..JPG

Members of The Oddfellows with staff from Sunderland Eye Infirmary as the group gifted a cash donation to support its research work.

David Smith is the branch’s District Secretary.

He said:

"We thought this would show our appreciation for the work the hospital here does and we are interested in helping research because we know this is so important for the future.

"Every one of our members who has come here as a patient has said they have been given very excellent service. They have all said that when they have come here, the feedback they have for the hospital is phenomenal.

"The Oddfellows was the forerunner to the NHS, we have been going since 1810. We have provided help for optical and dental care and convalescence for our members, not to mention the care and welfare we helped set up.

"We have 100 active members and 380 members in total, then we have members all over the country. As a branch we’re delighted to have been able to raise these funds for Sunderland Eye Infirmary."

Alice Johnson, from Hartlepool, has macular degeneration in both eyes and is among the branch members who visit the hospital for care.

She added:

"I’m absolutely delighted to see this money come to help here. I really value the treatment I have here at this hospital and so grateful for what my consultant has done to help me and what they do to help others as well."

The funds were raised through a raffle, with tickets sold by members and supported by members of St Hilda’s Church on the Headland.

Ajay Kotagiri is the Clinical Director for the hospital and one of its consultants.

He said:

"We are immensely grateful for this donation and thank the Oddfellows for their gift of funds and words of support. I know they are appreciated by our teams here.

"We are passionate about research at this hospital. We have a large number of trials and we want to see our research team grow and have more successes. Any money which comes to us to will help us do this.

"Many of these treatments are focussed on finding new and better treatments for our patients, who come to us over long periods of time, so this money will be invested in that work."

To find out more about the Trust’s research work can click here.