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RCOphth Manifesto 2019: Workforce revitalisation, smart data and new ways of working

22 November 2019

The next government must put the workforce at the heart of its vision for healthcare if it is to create a sustainable eyecare service that meets the needs of patients and staff, says The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) in its general election manifesto, published today.

RCOphth calls on the next government to ensure that the ophthalmology workforce needs to be properly resourced if it is to cope with improvements in eyecare treatment, diagnostics and rising patient demand. Urgent action is needed, as ophthalmology is the busiest outpatient specialty with demand predicted to rise over 40% in the next 20 years.

Alongside increased pressures on the workforce, the next government needs to recognise the importance of a joined-up approach to data. To achieve this, more investment is needed in tools that can utilise big data to measure performance, such as our National Ophthalmology Database (NOD), which safeguards high quality care, improves professional development and delivers £2million in annual savings to the NHS.

The new government must also address the need for new ways of working for our members, there is simply not enough space in hospitals to deliver ophthalmology services. RCOphth proposes that NHS Estates works with us and our members to create the right spaces for service delivery.

It is therefore critical that the next government tackles central issues raised by RCOphth:

  • Address imbalances in the workforce and develop innovative solutions to retaining and growing the number of ophthalmologists to meet rising demand
  • Combat the lack of space in hospitals to host effective ophthalmic services, by relocating into accessible community areas to create manageable patient workflows
  • Using data to improve patient outcomes and reduce surgical errors, including more funding for the NOD database, which delivers striking clinical and economic benefits for the NHS
  • Further invest in the NHS digital agenda to create robust IT systems capable of managing patient care between primary, secondary and community care
  • Continue to put Ophthalmology at the forefront of workforce transformation and improve capacity by increasing the number of ophthalmic led multidisciplinary teams

Mike Burdon, President of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists says: 

“Ophthalmology is one of the most effective and innovative specialties in the NHS. We are continually developing solutions, such as virtual clinics and the use of AI in diagnostics to overcome the increasing patient demand.  But we need support and investment from NHS England to help us do more to save the sight of our patients. This helps them to live independently for longer and prevent the associated negative effects of sight loss such as depression and falls.’


You can read the RCOphth 2019 Manifesto here.

For more information, please contact Jake McKey, RCOphth Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator on 020 7935 5336 or you can email: