Over the next financial year, NHS systems in England have been asked to reduce outpatient follow-up appointments by a quarter. This RCOphth briefing provides information on steps ophthalmology departments can take, and the need for NHS trusts to avoid a blanket approach towards implementation.
The short briefing document – Implementing NHS guidance on reducing outpatient follow-ups – summarises:
- The steps ophthalmology departments can take to reduce in-person outpatient appointments. These will include delivering diagnostic services outside of the hospital, offering patient-initiated follow-up appointments where clinically appropriate, and implementing robust discharge guidelines and referral refinement criteria.
- The significant challenges that ophthalmology as a speciality faces in safely reducing outpatient follow-ups in the short term. Ophthalmology is facing long backlogs, exacerbated by the pandemic, and follow-up appointments are often essential to prevent and manage chronic eye diseases.
- The need for NHS trusts to approach the target to cut outpatient follow-ups with flexibility, recognising the specific circumstances affecting ophthalmology in their area. Trusts will also need to engage at an early stage with commissioners and local optometrists to coordinate an integrated approach while taking steps to expand the capacity of multi-disciplinary eye care workforce.
We hope this briefing is helpful for you in the coming months in your conversations with colleagues as you plan how to approach this target.
If you have any comments or questions about the briefing or would like to share what is happening in your trust, please do email [email protected]