A COMPANY pledging to cut waiting times for patients having cataract surgery has been given the go-ahead to open on the edge Taunton.

SpaMedica has won a change of use planning permission to convert offices in Portland House, at Deane Gate Avenue, off the M5.

Somerset Council planners granted conditional approval for the project.

The company operates nationally in the healthcare sector, providing ophthalmology services as a partner of choice for the NHS. It is one of the larger providers of cataract surgery in the UK and undertakes more than 200,000 eye surgeries per year, most of which are for the NHS.

In a submission to Somerset Council, a representative says a SpaMedica hospital nearby "significantly reduces referral to treat times from the NHS average of 280 days to 42 days".

READ MORE: Eye clinic planning to come to Taunton.

The business will create a range of skilled and specialist jobs equating to 20 full-time equivalent clinical staff, who work four days out of seven. The staff include ophthalmologists, a clinic manager, specialist nurses, medical receptionist, housekeepers and a driver.

The site is expected to become operational within weeks following the granting of permission.

In a submission to the council, a SpaMedica representative said: "This facility will treat up to a maximum of 50 patients per day.

"These will only comprise pre-booked day cases with no overnight stays or walk-in/emergency facilities.

"The proposed hours of operation will be from 7.30am to 6.30pm, seven days a week.

"Appointments will also be offered on bank holidays.

"On very rare occasions the use of the theatre may be required outside of these hours, requiring 24-hour access, to deal with patient complications should they arise."

They added: "The site benefits from good access by public transport and has 43 allocated parking spaces on site for patients and staff.

"SpaMedica also operate free patient transport where they employ a driver who picks up patients unable to access the facility by other means in a minibus.

"The minibus is stored offsite at the driver’s place of residence.

"Patient visits are spread out by appointment throughout the day."