The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) has today defined its position on the provision of NHS cataract surgery and training by the independent sector in a new statement Three Steps to sustainable patient care: RCOphth view on the independent sector and the delivery of NHS cataract surgery
Action needed to ensure sustainable patient care
The statement describes the growing role played by Independent Sector Providers (ISPs) in delivering cataract surgery in England and outlines how the RCOphth will work with ISPs and others to ensure the delivery of a sustainable comprehensive ophthalmology service with a well-trained workforce. The statement sets out the RCOphth commitment to:
- Rapidly increase access to surgical training in the independent sector
- Level the playing field for cataract providers to ensure equitable patient access and stability for the whole service
- Safeguard patient safety and standards of service delivery.
The growing role of the independent sector
There has been a huge shift over the last five years in what type of provider delivers NHS funded cataract procedures. In 2016, just 11% of NHS cataract procedures in England were delivered by ISPs. But by April 2021 there was almost a 50/50 split, with 46% by ISPs and 54% by NHS trusts and treatment centres.
An important part of this changing picture is that NHS ophthalmology units, despite developing innovative solutions, have struggled to provide capacity for cataract procedures because of a lack of investment in appropriate infrastructure and workforce at the national and local level.
The RCOphth recognises that ISPs have helped to increase much-needed capacity to deliver patient care, particularly during the pandemic. However, this growing role has also presented new challenges that must be addressed to ensure a well-trained workforce and a sustainable comprehensive ophthalmology service to meet the growing patient demand.
The RCOphth welcomes views or comments, please email [email protected]