Our media coverage in November included mentions in the Financial Times and Medscape online news. Our active engagement with the media reflects our commitment to raising awareness about critical issues, advocating for reform, and increasing the profile of ophthalmology.
The Independent’s Rebecca Thomas contacted us for an article concerning eye patients forced to choose private healthcare or risk sight loss due to NHS waiting lists. Our response statement explained how NHS ophthalmology services are facing significant capacity pressures. Our workforce census indicates that more than three quarters (76%) of units do not have enough consultants to meet patient demand. We also highlighted the need for the government to ensure ophthalmology services are commissioned in line with patient need, and to increase the number of ophthalmologists we train to enable us to get a grip on waiting lists and provide the best possible service for NHS patients.
On a similar subject, we were contacted by the Financial Times to provide a comment regarding the NHS outsourcing more eye operations than ever as it struggles to respond to demand for surgery. Our policy manager Jordan Marshall told the reporter that although the use of the private sector had been “essential to bringing down waiting lists for cataract surgery”, there were concerns over patient aftercare, which often falls back on the NHS. More difficult operations for higher risk patients such as those with glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration also risk being sidelined. The story is here.
We also provided information for a story on Medscape – the medical news website – about the recent recall of carbomer-containing eye gels. We outlined the advice we gave to members about the recall.
President Ben Burton recently provided a comprehensive interview on Radio 4’s In Touch program, outlining key discussions from Westminster Eye Health Day. Ben highlighted the critical issue of senior consultant shortages, emphasising their rapid departure and the resultant understaffing in services. He noted an estimated shortage of 260 ophthalmologists in England, the equivalent of 35 hospitals lacking eye care departments, and expressed satisfaction with the government’s commitment to address training gaps through the eye care plan. Ben continued to stress the need for a transformative shift in private sector commissioning, urging a cohesive plan to expand the ophthalmology workforce, integrate optometrists and IT, and strategically deploy the independent sector where necessary.