The COVID-19 response is likely to move beyond full lockdown soon, and many hospitals are examining how they can restart some services safely.
As ophthalmology services already had capacity issues with evidence of delays in care affecting patient safety, the further restrictions on services due to COVID have been a real concern to patients and ophthalmologists. The exact timing for reopening services is yet to be announced by national NHS organisations but ophthalmologists are keen to restart care for patients with conditions which may damage vision and to offer sight saving procedures. In addition, the pandemic response has accelerated development of innovative ways of providing care remotely on which services can build to improve capacity problems for the future.
It is challenging to balance ensuring patient and staff safety from COVID spread against the avoidance of further damaging delays to ophthalmic care. This new publication helps ophthalmologists, particularly clinical leads, and their directors and managers, think through the many factors and decisions to be made to reopen care safely and incorporate recent service innovations, giving guidance where possible and further points to consider and decide based on the local population needs and competing healthcare demands. This is situation in which evidence and guidance are rapidly changing and we welcome feedback on this document to help us develop improved resources for members, clinical leads and managers of services.
You can read the interim guidance here.