Poor eye health is a common and growing issue. Currently nearly 111,000 people in Wales are living with sight loss. This is estimated to increase by a third by 2030 and double by 2050.
Whilst current NHS targets for eye care services support new patients, this is often only the first part of what patients need. Regular reviews or treatment might be needed to make sure a patients’ sight improves or to reduce the risk of avoidable blindness.
Following concerns raised by consultant ophthalmologists (eye care doctors) and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), the Minister for Health and Social Services in Wales asked a NHS-led group to review the problems facing patients on waiting lists, particularly those who require ongoing treatment.
This resulted in a set of recommendations and a new measure being agreed by the Minister. The new measure ensures that both new and existing patients are see or treated within an agreed timeframe based on their clinical condition.
From April 2019, new guidelines will require hospital eye services to have procedures in place ensuring patients receive their assessment or treatment by the most suitable person within a clinically appropriate time. This means that those high risk patients, who need be seen quickly due to their condition, should experience fewer delays.
The measure is based on priority and urgency of care required by each patient. Priority is the risk of harm associated with the patient’s eye condition if the target appointment date is missed. Urgency is how soon that patient should be seen given the current state and/or risk of progression of the condition.
Wales is the first UK nation to introduce a measure of this kind for eye care patients.
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