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Inaugural RCOphth Management and Leadership Seminar a hit with attendees

31 May 2018

With a growing need for ophthalmologists to take on greater management and leadership roles in today’s NHS, the inaugural ‘Management and Leadership in Ophthalmology’ seminar was a welcome addition to the College’s meeting diary, aimed to facilitate effective joint working of clinicians and managers. The seminar was held at the College and it was fully booked with a waiting list. While the majority of attendees were clinicians, a number of attendees were managers and other healthcare professionals.

Following the welcome and introduction by the Chairs, Mrs Melanie Hingorani and Professor Christopher Liu, the first session dealt with Operational, Capacity and Finance issues. Jane McNevin, Head and Neck Directorate Manager for Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals started the programme with her view of what she expects of clinicians. While it is important for clinicians to be enthusiastic, engaged and safe, teamwork is paramount and it is important that clinicians are aware of the bigger picture and how they fit in with a Trust’s vision and values.

Miss Dilani Siriwardena, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Divisional Director for Moorfields Eye Hospital, then followed with a presentation of how to develop a lean glaucoma service. The College’s Way Forward documents highlight the increasing demand for glaucoma services and therefore traditional consultant provided services may not be sustainable in the modern NHS, paving the way for innovative approaches to healthcare that include the development of virtual services and possibly increasing utilisation of artificial intelligence in the near future.

Mr Dan Lindfield, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Glaucoma Lead for Royal Surrey County Hospital, discussed the role of private practice and the private sector in today’s NHS highlighting that private practice is underutilised but not under equipped and therefore can be an effective partner with the NHS, for example if waiting lists start to increase. The morning session closed with Mr Steve Davies, Chief Financial Officer for Moorfields Eye Hospital, giving a primer of finance and commissioning and highlighting that more expenditure in the NHS is required in order to reach the same levels as the rest of the European Union.

The second session on People Management began with a presentation by Mr Declan Flanagan, Medical Director for Moorfields Eye Hospital, highlighting the extraordinary journeys that resulted in the development of a new paediatric vitreoretinal service, a London wide retinopathy of prematurity treatment service and an ocular oncology service. Mr Dominic Clarke, Divisional Director of Operations (Surgery) at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, closed the session with a presentation of deciding when and how to manage change, change often failing due to a lack of leadership, vision or engagement of the parties involved.

After lunch, the next session was titled ‘Quality’ and opened with Professor John Sparrow discussing quality outcomes in cataract surgery highlighting the success of the NHS to provide quality visual care for most patients given that only the lowest levels of social deprivation have significantly worse pre-operative visual acuity. However there is still a need to improve data collection for subsequent national ophthalmology database (NOD) audits given a low level of pre-operative and post-operative visual acuity results. The two Chairs closed the session with Mrs Melanie Hingorani discussing how to prevent never events and wrong IOLs, one of the commonest causes of never events resulting in the College releasing guidance on wrong IOL insertion and highlighting the importance of patient communication and balancing their expectations post-operatively. Professor Christopher Liu provided a comprehensive summary of job planning and how to manage underperforming colleagues, closing the session.

Dr Chris Streather, Group Chief Medical Director of Royal Free London, and Ms Charity Wai, Chief Executive of the Singapore National Eye Centre and Singapore Eye Research Institute provided the final Keynote lectures. Dr Streather discussed the importance of clinical leadership and believes the 3 key requirements for today’s NHS are public health engagement, increased productivity and increased funding. Dr Streather highlighted the need for formal leadership training and while sometimes challenging, found the role hugely rewarding.

Ms Wai closed the day with a summary of how the Singapore National Eye Centre is managed, highlighting their efforts to improve infrastructure, develop collaborations between clinicians and managers and the drive towards improving medical research and increasing the numbers of clinician scientists.

In summary, the inaugural Management and Leadership in Ophthalmology seminar provided attendees with an excellent overview of key issues facing both clinicians and managers in the NHS. An underlying theme of the day was that it is time to take our heads out of the sand and to start taking a pro-active approach to management and leadership of the services we offer. While it may seem daunting and challenging, by engaging and collaborating with the management team we can ensure all work together to provide the best for our patients improving their care, satisfaction and outcomes.

Mr Richard M H Lee MSc FRCOphth

Moorfields Eye Hospital, London