RCOphth continues to help shape the development of cataract pathways in Scotland

  • 17 Jan 2023
  • Jordan Marshall, Policy Manager

As we updated you last year, the RCOphth is contributing to ongoing work to optimise cataract pathways in Scotland. This work is being led by NHS Scotland’s Centre for Sustainable Delivery (CfSD), with the objective of increasing the number of cataracts performed per four-hour session to a minimum of 8, with bespoke centres delivering higher volume. At present there is significant variation, with a mean of 5.4 across all units.

RCOphth representatives have met with those leading this work in the CfSD. We have shared existing guidance and best practice to help inform the work,  such as the 2021 RCOphth/GIRFT guidance on cataract hubs and high flow cataract lists. We have highlighted the need to make best use of the pre-hospital optometry pathway and for every eye unit to have a cataract lead.

The goal of increasing the number of cataract procedures delivered will present challenges for some eye units. It will be important that these challenges are taken into account as NHS Scotland works with clinicians to implement. Clinical cataract leads have been appointed in every region to collate what these issues are and inform NHS Scotland, so that any support or resources that are needed can be identified.

2023 will see standards for cataract surgery in Scotland finalised. The first step has been a consultation by Healthcare Improvement Scotland on the scope of the standards, which we responded to last week. The consultation considered which areas should be covered by the standards and which stakeholders should be involved in developing the standards.

The RCOphth response to this consultation emphasised the need to include within the standards the development of minimum datasets for the reporting of cataract outcomes, and clarity on the staffing numbers and professional roles needed to deliver the standards. We also stressed the need for a wide range of stakeholders to be part of developing the standards – not just consultant ophthalmologists, but ophthalmologists in training, SAS doctors, anaesthetists and healthcare support workers.

We will ensure that the College is well represented as this work continues through 2023, and will keep you up-to-date with developments and opportunities to contribute. NHS Scotland’s plan is for draft standards to be published for consultation in summer 2023, before the final standards are published in November 2023.