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7 July 2016

Eye health sector intervenes to stop patients losing sight

Warnings that hospital initiated delays and cancelled follow up appointments are at crisis point, putting patients’ sight at risk, have led to a new cross-sector initiative. It aims to release pressure off the hospital eye health services by treating more people in the community.

To meet these challenges the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning (CCEHC), representing the major charity, clinical and provider organisations in the sector, has stepped in to launch a new Primary Eye Care Framework1 for eye health services. The Framework will help commissioners address capacity issues in their area by delivering more support in primary care settings, in line with the NHS Five year Forward View.

The new Framework complements the Community Ophthalmology Framework2published by the Clinical Council in 2015. It will empower commissioners and providers to release capacity within hospital through a multidisciplinary approach to treat the right patient in the most appropriate service.

Launching the new framework David Parkins, Chair of the Clinical Council said: “Patients are now at risk of losing their sight because of delayed appointments and capacity pressures. Radical change is needed and we urge all Clinical Commissioning Groups and Local Eye Health Networks to measure their existing services against these frameworks and use them to expand local capacity to meet need as part of their local Sustainability and Transformation Plans.”

President of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, Professor Carrie MacEwen, supports the review of services to ease pressure on overstretched hospital eye health services. She said: “It is critical that the ophthalmic sector develops frameworks that support the growing demands made on the multi-disciplinary workforce. This team provides primary and secondary care for patients and we need to ensure that it is delivered through consistent and recognised training and education standards. We advocate the right eye care professional, at the right time and in the right setting.”


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Notes to editors

  1. Concerns raised by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, and by MPs in Parliament, led to NHS England organising the country’s first ever high-level eye health summit for NHS commissioners this June.
  4. The Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning (CCEHC) coordinates leading organisations from across eye health services to offer united, evidence-based clinical advice and guidance to those commissioning and delivering eye health services in England on issues where national leadership is needed. Its member organisations are: