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RCOphth’s Three Step Plan offers solutions to address overwhelmed hospital eye services

11 May 2016

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists is the professional body for ophthalmologists and is responsible for creating and maintaining standards in ophthalmic training and practice to provide safe and effective treatment and management of eye diseases and conditions.

The RCOphth’s Three Step Plan focuses on three areas to address the challenges facing overwhelmed hospital eye services.

  1. Collect and Report Data – make it mandatory: Data are not routinely gathered for review patient appointments that are delayed or postponed, putting patients at risk of not receiving care within a safe timescale
  2. Maximise capacity – use all resources effectively: Use and share new models of care that optimise existing and limited resources such as personnel, space and equipment; improve patient flow and pathways within the hospital and the community
  3. Empower and Inform Patients – promote personal responsibility: Work with patients and patient groups to facilitate better understanding and knowledge of eye health, diagnosis and personal treatment plans

Professor Carrie MacEwen, President of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists said, ‘With an increase of up to 30% in eye clinic attendances over the last five years, the hospital eye service is under extreme pressure. Our Three Step Plan outlines the solutions we believe are urgently needed and deliverable to overcome the increased demand and reduce risk to patients’.

The Three Step Plan seeks to tackle preventable sight loss due to postponed treatment as a consequence of delayed review appointments and to improve access to eye services overall.

Currently, NHS targets prioritise newly referred patients over review patients, who are 8-9 times more likely to have an irreversible sight threatening condition.

Professor MacEwen continued. ‘It is vitally important that those involved in the commissioning of services and policy development recognise this positive plan and work with the medical professionals who are best placed to provide solutions. The Three Step Plan provides clear opportunities to work collaboratively  to ensure that we overcome the lack of capacity for the current demand facing hospital eye services to prevent avoidable sight loss in patients.’

The Three Step Plan is being launched at the RCOphth Annual Congress this year and is being distributed to all those working in health and commissioning of services.