People should not have to make an eight-hour journey to Belfast for cataract surgery, according to one Corkonian who made the trip on Saturday after he spent almost a year awaiting surgery in Ireland.
Knocknaheeny native Jim Leahy, aged 69, was one of nine Corkonians who made the journey to Belfast on Saturday, having failed to get the same procedure at home.
“It’s great to have it done, I feel great after it,” he said.
“I don’t mind travelling myself but for some people, it can very stressful and tiring.
“Hopefully something will be done because it’s not a good situation at all.”
Five people from Cork city, three from West Cork, and one from Macroom left their homes in Cork to undertake the journey and life-changing surgery.
“I’ve a new lease of life now,” said Mr Leahy, who said that the cross-border initiative ensured he would not have to pay high private fees.
“I was thinking about getting a loan out of €5,000 to pay for it but that would’ve meant I’d be paying back €7,500 a few years later which would be a huge burden on me.
“This way, it cost €1,600 and I’ll get that back now in a few weeks,” he added.
Independent TD Michael Collins, who helps organise the trips to Belfast, revealed plans to extend the service to include other operations, including hip replacements, under the cross-border initiative.
“There are other operations and procedures available under the cross-border initiative which people are waiting months or even years for down here,” said Mr Collins.
“Hip, knee, varicose veins; I’ve had people calling me about all of them as well as orthodontic treatment, which young people can be waiting far too long for.
“I’ll consult with doctors in Cork and give them three months to get people seen to and an operation but anything more than that, I’ll try and get them to Belfast,” he added.
“We’re getting calls all the time from people looking for operations and we’re happy to accommodate them.
“At the moment we’re focusing on the two trips in February which are already fully booked.”