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The RCOphth launches Cataract Services Workforce Guidance

30 March 2021

Working with primary and secondary partners and patients, the Cataract Services Workforce Guidance March 2021 includes a RCOphth cataract workforce calculator tool Mar2021 to support workforce planning to meet demand

Cataract surgery is the UK’s most common elective operation. Approximately half a million operations are performed each year and demand is set to increase 25% over the next decade, as the population ages.

Cataract services around the UK are being redesigned to increase their capacity, through streamlining pathways and integration with primary care optometry, as described in the RCOphth/GIRFT Cataract Hubs and High Flow Cataract Lists. Significant work is being done to improve referrals, optimise surgical throughput and implement post-operative review by primary care optometrists.

A Cataract Workforce Guidance Development Group (CWGDG) brought together The College of Optometrists, the Royal College of Nursing, ophthalmologist consultants and trainees, and patient representation, to develop cataract workforce guidance to support local eye health systems to meet increasing demand for cataract surgery, in a joined-up, sustainable and COVID-safe way.

Jonathan Bhargava, CWGDG Chair said, ‘To deliver the redesigned model pathways, workforce planning and training are crucial to ensure the right staff are in place within the Hospital Eye Service and wider eye health system.  Workforce planning should be based on accurate data based on demand and take into account a range of factors, such as case complexity, staff training, theatre time and the care pathways between primary and secondary care’.

The resulting Cataract Services Workforce Guidance provides practical information for hospital staff planning and operating lists to utilise theatre time efficiently, and a unique ‘workforce calculator’ for determining the staff needed to deliver joined up community and hospital-based cataract pathways.  The guidance is aimed to provide:

  • Clinical and Service Leads guidance to provide safe, efficient, and sustainable cataract services within the Hospital Eye Service
  • Trust Business Managers and Clinical Leads support to determine the surgical and multidisciplinary workforce required to support existing or new pathways and implement training where needed
  • Commissioners and the newly formed Integrated Care System leaders guidance and the workforce calculator tool to predict the long-term demand for cataract surgery in their populations

The workforce calculator tool has been designed to predict the staffing requirements for different patient pathways to serve the local population needs. It provides detail on number of surgical lists, and the total annual and weekly ophthalmologist sessions needed, taking into account the primary eye care workforce.

Jonathan continued, ‘It is hoped that the guidance recommendations and the workforce calculator tool are used extensively, by those leading on the development of service design and workforce planning, to increase capacity in the Hospital Eye Service and further improve patient care.

The calculator tool provides 10-year predictions based on population changes and demand for cataract surgery among the over 50s. Forecasts for workforce requirements are presented as annual and weekly number of sessions for ophthalmologists and primary care optometric teams, and in annual and weekly hours for nurses and healthcare professionals.

Read the Cataract Services Workforce Guidance March 2021 and download the RCOphth cataract workforce calculator tool Mar2021

(A video instruction on how to use the calculator tool document is embedded in the file)

Read the Cataract Services Workforce Guidance Stakeholder Feedback and Changes Mar2021


Other relevant reading: The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) and Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) have jointly produced a new document offering guidance and recommendations for setting up cataract hubs and high volume cataract lists, to improve help patient care post-COVID.

Cataract Hubs and High Flow Cataract Lists