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RCOphth endorses the APPG report ‘See the Light’ that highlights continuing crisis in hospital eye services

11 June 2018

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists endorses the APPG Eye Health and Visual Impairment report, ‘See the Light’, but says the crisis is not new

Patients across England are losing sight due to delayed and cancelled eye care appointments

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth), a key partner in the development of the ‘See the Light’ report recommendations, is calling for these to be implemented at a national strategic level, fully integrated and appropriately funded.

This would ensure that the nation will have an eye health service that delivers timely, high quality care appropriate for the increasingly aging population of the United Kingdom.

Mr Mike Burdon, RCOphth President said at the launch, ‘The only disappointing aspect of this report is that it has been necessary to produce it at all. Failure to stop the continuing crisis in eye care is no longer an option.  This crisis is not new and has been discussed at a national level many times in the past.’

The inquiry has sought to identify solutions to help improve the commissioning and planning of eye care services in England to increase capacity. Evidence was received from 557 patients, 112 organisations including clinicians, eye care departments, commissioners, health industry organisations, the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and Public Health England. An Expert Advisory Group, including patients and representatives from organisations with expertise in eye care, provided advice and guidance throughout the inquiry.

The recommendations were developed by an expert advisory group, including Professor Steve Vernon, RCOphth Vice President. Professor Vernon commented, ‘The whole eye health sector has come together to highlight the issues affecting hospital eye services, hearing the patient and the professionals’ testimony at inquiry stage is powerful’.

The launch yesterday sought support from MPs for two key recommendations:

  1. Prioritising eye health in the NHS Mandate for England
  2. For eye health capacity issues to be addressed in the local Sustainability and Transformation Partnership plans.

Mr Burdon continued, ‘This report includes personal testimony from people directly affected by the lack of capacity within eye care services, and it is entirely right that they are central to why we are asking for recognition of the crisis.  But it is also the patients’ clinician that is working under extreme pressures. I have personally experienced, on many occasions, my ability to deliver high quality care being compromised by a system that is overwhelmed and which causes potential or actual loss of vision, and I am not alone. This is devastating for patients and soul destroying for clinicians’.

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists is asking for MPs, patients and carers to put pressure on the Department of Health to stop the crisis and for the Secretary of State, Mr Hunt to take a personal interest in why ophthalmic healthcare professionals and the annual seven million outpatients should be listened to.

Read Mike Burdon’s speech made at the launch of the APPG report.