Report highlights good practice to ease pressure on eye clinics

Post date: 
Thursday, 15 October 2015
View from above an operating table, with a patient with a patch over one eye being prepared for surgery

A report by a health regulator has spelled out ways aimed at easing the pressure on eye clinics at hospitals.

Monitor has produced a report that highlights good practice in England and abroad. It aims to identify productive elective pathways in NHS hospitals and to “understand the practices that drive higher productivity, to calculate the potential efficiency improvements from introducing those practices.” 
It states that there are a number of good methods that can help productivity. These include 
  • extending clinical roles to enable lower-grade staff to undertake routine tasks in theatre or outpatients usually performed by consultants
  • increasing throughput in theatres by explicitly measuring, communicating and managing the number of procedures per theatre session
  • implementing enhanced and rapid recovery practices to reduce length of stay e. providing virtual follow-up for uncomplicated patients
The report suggests that post-operative cataract care should be provided in the community – a move that has been welcomed by national representative bodies for optometrists and opticians.
The Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU) and the Optical Confederation (OC) have backed Monitor’s recommendation in their report on elective surgery that post-operative, follow-up care for patients who have had cataract surgery should be provided in the community by optometrists.
Both LOCSU and the OC agree with the health watchdog that the move would help ease the pressure on hospital ophthalmology clinics.
Katrina Venerus, LOCSU Managing Director, said: “This is eminently sensible and the community optical sector believes it should be implemented across the country. 
“Despite the obvious benefits, to date, only 23 out of the 209 CCGs in England have commissioned this approach to bring efficiency to the cataract care pathway and provide care closer to home for patients. 
“This means that for the majority of the 370,000 cataract procedures that are carried out per year, patients still have to travel to hospital for an outpatient appointment. “
It also cites the importance of extending the role of the nurses that in some clinics allow them to administer injections for wet amd or give topical anaesthesia for routine cataract surgery.
“These changes need to be clinically led, made on a large scale and coordinated nationally rather than introduced piecemeal locally,” the report says. 
The report – that also covers orthopaedics -  believes that all clinics should see this report as an opportunity for improvement.

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