The Royal College of Ophthalmologists has written to Health Minister Will Quince MP to express our support for the extension of independent prescribing responsibilities to orthoptists. The British and Irish Orthoptic Society has previously advocated for these responsibilities, including in a letter to the Secretary of State.
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’.
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC), in partnership with NHS England, has published a new set of ‘evidence based interventions (EBI)’ including measures for ophthalmology. The guidance aims to increase ophthalmic capacity in England by improving efficiency in the referral pathways for diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts into hospital eye services. Implementing these changes will require clinicians and commissioners to work closely together, ensuring effective pathways are developed that are properly resourced.
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.
In November 2022, The Royal College of Ophthalmologists Paediatric Sub-committee held a series of focus groups to explore the challenges facing paediatric eye care and identify possible solutions to secure the future of the workforce. Following the conclusion of these focus groups, the RCOphth has produced ‘Improving the visibility of paediatric ophthalmology: A workforce report‘ detailing key findings
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.
Last week Members of Parliament debated the potential merits of a national eye health strategy at Westminster Hall. The debate, tabled by Marsha de Cordova MP, saw parliamentarians from across the political spectrum cite recent RCOphth statistics and explore several policy priorities advocated by the College. They discussed how an eye care strategy, supported by investment and resourcing, could help facilitate solutions to the ophthalmology capacity challenge.
Following the independent Pyott Report which reviewed eye care services in Wales, important progress on significant investment in Welsh eye care infrastructure, including full regionalisation of services, is being made. We update on this work, which includes £150,000 funding from the Welsh Government to develop a National Clinical Strategy for Ophthalmology. This article also examines a new plan from NHS Wales to develop the health workforce and what it will mean for ophthalmology services.
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists last week hosted a webinar with King’s Mill Hospital Ophthalmology Department and NHS England’s Outpatient Recovery and Transformation team to explore how ophthalmology patient-initiated follow-up (PIFU) can be successfully implemented. The session, held following the publication of the King’s Mill PIFU case study and attended by almost 100 people from a range of professions, saw an expert panel deliver presentations on the role PIFU can play in increasing capacity as part of a wider set of actions, followed by an audience Q&A.