ENVIRONMENT Secretary Owen Paterson was just hours away from losing his sight in one eye last week after he was diagnosed with a detached retina.
The North Shropshire MP was rushed to a London hospital on Thursday morning for an emergency operation, hours after the diagnosis which could have led to blindness in his right eye without prompt treatment.
The 57-year-old had been expected to chair the Cobra (Cabinet Office Briefing Room A) meeting and make the statement in Parliament on Thursday regarding damaging floods across the country, and in particular the South West, but was forced to pull out due to the operation.
His wife, Rose, said yesterday (Monday): “It was pretty frightening. I got Owen to see an ophthalmic surgeon straight from Wednesday’s Cobra meeting and he had no sight in his right eye at all. The surgeon said Owen had to drop everything and he would operate the next day because if he left it any later it would have been too late.”
But things haven’t got any easier since returning to his North Shropshire home on Friday evening as Mr Paterson has to lie flat on his back until at least tomorrow evening to help his eye recover before a check-up on Wednesday.
“That’s been pretty tough,” Mrs Paterson continued, “He’s sore and it’s difficult because he can’t see much. But we have been keeping him up to date with everything that is happening regarding the flooding and he has been on the telephone with the relevant senior colleagues so he is really up to speed,” she added.
The diagnosis came at the end of what was a very bad week for Mr Paterson.
First the Green Party called on the Prime Minister to sack him after they accused him of “gross incompetence” citing what they said was “a string of failures” during his 18-month tenure as Environment Secretary, before the Prime Minister took over chairmanship of Wednesday’s Cobra committee meeting. While on Sunday, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, who has been put in charge of the Government’s flood defences, apologised to those affected by flooding after the Government failed to provide money for dredging rivers.
Mrs Paterson added that on Saturday, police officers had attended the couple’s home following rumours that a splinter group from a badger cull protest in Shrewsbury was going to attempt to visit the property. However, the rumour never materialised.