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Inquiry: All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Eye Health and Visual Impairment

A 2018 report from the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Eye Health and Visual Impairment outlines solutions to the current capacity issues in eye care services in England.

The APPG conducted an inquiry to identify how capacity in NHS eye care services in England can be improved to ensure no one loses their sight unnecessarily. On 6 June 2018, it released its findings in the report, “See the light: Improving capacity in NHS eye care in England”.

“See the Light” report recommendations

RNIB is working with sector partners to implement the report's 16 recommendations, from providing staff with more extensive training to setting national targets:

For the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

  • To include eye health specifically within the NHS England mandate to ensure it is accorded a higher priority

For NHS England

  • To review and report publicly on how eye care capacity issues are addressed in sustainability and transformation partnership plans and how these relate to current and predicted need.
  • To bring ophthalmology fully within the NHS transformation programme whilst adequately funding service redesign.
  • To appropriately resource and support Local Eye Health Networks within STPs and Integrated Care Systems to drive improvement.
  • With NHS Digital, to implement routine data collection in ophthalmology departments on waiting times for follow-up appointments, delays to follow-up outside clinically recommended timescales, patients lost to follow-up and consequences.
  • To urgently review the National Tariff for ophthalmology which currently seriously disadvantages some patients with glaucoma, wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy who require follow up appointments and are particularly at risk of avoidable sight loss.
  • To establish a national target to ensure patients requiring follow up appointments are seen within clinically appropriate times to prevent delayed and cancelled appointments resulting in patients lost to follow up.
  • With NHS Digital, to urgently implement IT-connectivity between community optometry and the wider NHS to improve patient care and efficiency.

For the Department of Health and Social Care with the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency

  • To review regulations to ensure that necessary amounts of drugs are dispensed, stored and available in theatre and outpatient treatment rooms in advance of the day’s list for treatment.

For Local Authority and Clinical Commissioning Groups

  • To review the eye health needs sections of their Joint Strategic Needs Assessments to ensure consistency, to assess current and future eye health need.

For Clinical Commissioning Groups

  • To establish separate ophthalmology contracts with NHS providers from April 2019 to ensure there is public transparency about funding invested in eye-care and how this correlates to assessed need in Joint Strategic Needs Assessments.

For NHS providers

  • To ensure the eye care pathway is clear for those responsible for managing patient care and effectively communicated to patients.
  • To review booking procedures to ensure patients who need further appointments can book their next appointment, within clinically appropriate timescales, before leaving the clinic. This will benefit patients and aid capacity planning.

For Health Education England

  • To urgently increase the number of trainee ophthalmologists.
  • To review the curricula of medical training institutions to ensure a minimum standard of eye health education is included, in agreement with the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.
  • To build on strong support from all relevant professional bodies for consistent learning outcomes from curriculum and training systems for ophthalmic professionals such as optometrists, opticians, nurses and orthoptists.

"The recommendations in this report, when implemented, will help to meet the increasing demands for eye care services, deliver strategic and joined up eye care, and reduce the number of patients losing sight because of delays. Lord Low of Dalston and Jim Shannon, MP, Co-Chairs, All Party Parliamentary Group on Eye Health and Visual Impairment.

It's important that action is taken urgently to improve capacity in eye care services.

Additional report papers

Over a hundred organisations submitted evidence and the Inquiry heard from more than 550 patients. An Expert Advisory Group including patients volunteering with the Macular Society, International Glaucoma Association (IGA) and RNIB, representatives from the College of Optometrists, Optical Confederation, Royal College of Ophthalmologists, Birmingham Focus, Vision UK and NHS Alliance provided advice and guidance about the analysis of the evidence and the development of recommendations.

About the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Eye Health and Visual Impairment

APPGs are informal cross-party groups within Parliament. The APPG on Eye Health and Visual Impairment educates parliamentarians about the importance of high quality eye care for the prevention of eye disease, sight loss and blindness.

The current APPG Chair is Marsha De Cordova MP and the Co-Chair is Lord Low of Dalston, a Crossbench Member of the House of Lords. 

RNIB and the Optical Confederation provide administrative and organisational support to members of the APPG on Eye Health and Visual Impairment.

To find out more visit the Register of Interest, you can also view the Register of all APPGs.