HEALTH watchdog Sir Bill Taylor has asked for reassurance that East Lancashire patients needing eye surgery are being prioritised for their need.

Last week the Lancashire Telegraph revealed how the waiting list for non-emergency eye surgery in East Lancashire has swelled to almost double the ideal number.

Board papers for Burnley General Hospital revealed the inpatient waiting list in the ophthalmology department was 650 at the end of January, compared to the target list size of 346.

The growing backlog of East Lancashire patients, half of whom are waiting for cataract surgery, has caused the department to miss the key 18-week waiting target, resulting in a financial penalty of £2,500.

Sir Bill Taylor, chairman of Blackburn with Darwen Healthwatch, said: “I'd like to know if the most vulnerable awaiting treatment are safe in the meantime.”