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The Way Forward – a resource for collaborative working to review and redesign eye care services in the UK

8 February 2017

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists publishes The Way Forward for the review and redesign of eye care services.

The increasing demand for hospital eye services is not being met and continues to grow, currently ophthalmology deals with nearly 10% of all out-patient appointments and performing 6% of the overall surgery in the UK.

The Way Forward1 was commissioned by The Royal College of Ophthalmologists to identify current methods of working employed by ophthalmology departments in the UK.  The research was gathered through more than 200 structured interviews with ophthalmology clinical leads, providing real-life solutions and models of care.

Some hospital eye services are meeting the demand with traditional models of care, but increasingly, the growing aging population demand on those services is leading to inefficiencies and potentially patients coming to harm. The Royal College of Ophthalmologists has recently published research, conducted through the British Ophthalmological Surveillance Unit2 (BOSU), which found patients suffering permanent and severe visual loss due to health service initiated delays3.

The research covers each of the particularly high volume areas in ophthalmic care with both a short summary document and a more detailed report – cataract, glaucoma, medical retina (including macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease), emergency eye care.

The comprehensive reports are an effective resource for ophthalmologists to share and collaborate with hospital managers, commissioners, medical and non-medical healthcare professional colleagues in the delivery of hospital eye services.

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists believes that ophthalmologists can act as the architects of change, collaborating with commissioning and health bodies to ensure eye care services and methods of working are sustainable to meet the future demands of the increasing aging population. 

Notes to Editors


  1. The Way Forward: The RCOphth contracted the Leeds Ophthalmic Public Health Team, with Mr John Buchan as the Principal Investigator, to produce an initial report identifying best practice models for the delivery of ophthalmic services in the UK and offer suggestions on the range and composition of ophthalmic care teams.
  2. The British Ophthalmological Surveillance Unit operates a globally unique system for the epidemiological investigation rare ophthalmic diseases. It allows researchers to establish he incidence and clinical features of rare eye conditions of public health or scientific importance in the UK. BOSU is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year 1997-2017
  3. BOSU Study: Authors B Foot1 and C MacEwen2 ‘Surveillance of sight loss due to delay in ophthalmic treatment or review: frequency, cause and outcome’