RNIB asks MPs to minimize impact of eye health delays

Post date: 
Friday, 15 May 2020
Eye health campaigning
National Eye Health Week

Coronavirus has meant a big shift in how eye health services are working. We’ve been sharing information with MPs to make sure the NHS can deal with the backlog once more routine care resumes.

What’s happened in eye clinics?

During the first weeks of the coronavirus outbreak hospitals understandably deferred all eye care appointments except for those who would experience irreversible sight loss without treatment. Once things go back to normal the delay means there’ll be a backlog of appointments for people with conditions like glaucoma and cataracts.

It’s essential health and social care services are ready meet the needs of blind and partially sighted people so we’ve been sharing our views with MPs.

What did we ask for?

In our response to the Health and Social Care Select Committee inquiry we called for:

  • The Government to ensure there is capacity within eyecare to respond to this backlog and provide the critical sight saving treatment needed.
  • Procedures to be put in place to enable people with sight loss to access hospitals and other NHS services with a guide and the provision of PPE equipment for guides where appropriate.
  • The inclusion of messaging about access to urgent and emergency eye care services in the NHS Open for Business communication campaign.
  • Ophthalmology departments to have access to Eye Clinic Liaison Officers (ECLOs) who provide a vital service for people diagnosed with sight loss.

Vision rehabilitation services

Along with the urgent need to address capacity issues in eye clinics, which was a problem prior to the coronavirus outbreak, we are also asking the Government to ensure that people with sight loss have access to vital social care services, including vision rehabilitation, which in many areas has been hit by changes to services locally.

Social distancing, changes to the outside environment, in supermarkets and workplaces are creating unique challenges for blind and partially sighted people. Vision rehabilitation services are essential for helping people to adjust to a new way of navigating.

We look forward to the hearing the results of this inquiry and will keep you updated as we hear more.