We have provided evidence to the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC), which is responding to the UK COVID-19 Inquiry on behalf of all members. RCOphth Policy Advisor David Murray summarises the key points from our response, which recommends four actions to ensure UK ophthalmology services are resilient and able to deliver sufficient patient care and training opportunities during and after the acute stage of a future pandemic.
The Government’s Elective Recovery Taskforce has announced several actions aimed at increasing capacity in England in its implementation plan, especially through expanded independent sector involvement in the delivery of NHS services. While the measures, analysed in this article, represent an important acknowledgement of the need to urgently expand capacity and aspects of the plan can help ophthalmology if implemented effectively, to make a real difference policymakers must prioritise properly investing in NHS services and its workforce and infrastructure.
The Department of Health and Social Care has today published its Elective recovery taskforce implementation plan. The plan covers England and focuses on ‘increasing the use of independent sector capacity across a broader range of specialties, helping to get NHS waiting times down and ensuring every patient can realise their right to choose where they receive their NHS care’.
NHS England has published a Long Term Workforce Plan which sets out actions over the next 15 years aimed at tackling the NHS workforce crisis in England. RCOphth Policy Manager Jordan Marshall assesses the implications for ophthalmology and the unanswered questions.
RCOphth held two sessions at Annual Congress 2023 in Birmingham examining the key policy priorities of ophthalmology. The first session explored the challenges and potential solutions to the ophthalmology workforce crisis - informed by an expert panel - while the second session saw the National Clinical Director for Eye Care Louisa Wickham discuss national coordination of eye care services. Both events facilitated a highly engaging discussion between panellists and the RCOphth member audience who were invited to pose questions, input with their experience and suggest solutions. These well-attended panel sessions were received by members as an opportunity for informative debate of the issues most pertinent to ophthalmology services.
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) and the ophthalmology department at King’s Mill district general hospital (DGH) collaborated on a case study detailing how King’s Mill developed its patient initiated follow up (PIFU) offering in general ophthalmology, and the impact it has had on unit capacity and patient outcomes, as part of a wider set of actions.
NHS England has published guidance detailing how trusts can reduce instances of ‘did not attends’ (DNAs) for outpatient appointments. RCOphth Policy Advisor David Murray summarises what’s in the guidance, how it might affect ophthalmology services and what else is needed to tackle outpatient backlogs in ophthalmology.
The RCOphth guidance on good practice for urgent and emergency secondary ophthalmic care, includes processes and principles for ensuring reliable administrative and clinical arrangements with the receiving unit (or units) so that referral/transfer is efficient, timely and maintains high standards of patient care.
In a recent interview with BBC Wales, Gwyn Williams warned that a ‘tide of avoidable blindness’ could sweep Wales if eye care services are not reformed. He went on to say that waits for key treatments were ‘the biggest they've ever been’.
Nearly 600,000 people were waiting for ophthalmology treatments in January 2022, the largest waiting list of all NHS specialities, and around 10 per cent of all those on the referral-to-treatment pathway.