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14 March 2017

New self-advocacy pilot launches to help prevent sight loss for eye patients

14 March 2017

Patients are being helped to take care of their sight under a new pilot scheme to end cancelled, delayed or missed eye clinic appointments.

RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) is trialling a patient self-advocacy project in partnership with the Macular Society, International Glaucoma Association, and The Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

Ask & Tell empowers patients to ask their eye doctor when their next appointment should be, and to tell reception staff so it is kept. It creates awareness with reception and administration staff in eye clinics about the importance of follow up appointments to avoid preventable sight loss. Ask & Tell also aims to encourage patients to not miss their appointments.

During the six month pilot, patients can access a range of Ask & Tell resources and information online and in the eye clinic to support them to look after their sight.

Around 20 patients a month in England experience sight loss as a result of hospital-initiated appointment delays, according to The Royal College of Ophthalmologists’ research ‘Surveillance of sight loss due to delay in ophthalmic treatment or review: frequency, cause and outcome’1.

Fazilet Hadi, Director of Engagement at RNIB, said:
“We’re delighted to be running the Ask & Tell pilot in partnership with the Macular Society, International Glaucoma Association, and The Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

“We know it’s vital for patients to attend their eye clinic appointments and to have timely access to effective diagnosis and treatments. Delaying, cancelling or missing an appointment can lead to loss of sight, which could have been prevented.”

Cathy Yelf, Chief Executive of the Macular Society, said:
“Understandably, patients get very frightened when their appointments are delayed or cancelled because they know the consequences. We look forward to piloting Ask & Tell and hope it will mean more patients get access to the timely treatment they need.”

Karen Osborn, Chief Executive of International Glaucoma Association, said:
“We know from our helpline and from our own research that delays to hospital appointments are increasing. Callers are anxious and stressed about the impact this will have on their condition. We are delighted to be working with RNIB, the Macular Society, and The Royal College of Ophthalmologists to highlight this issue and believe this campaign will have a positive impact on patients”.

Professor Carrie MacEwen, President of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, said:
“The Ask & Tell initiative is a great example of providing patients with tools that encourage them to manage and understand the importance of keeping their scheduled eye appointments as advised by consultants.”

RNIB will use feedback from the pilots to inform a roll out of Ask & Tell across England later this year.

For more information about Ask & Tell, please visit:

Notes to editors
The hospitals taking part in the Ask & Tell pilot are:
• Manchester Royal Eye Hospital
• Royal Blackburn Hospital
• Salisbury District Hospital
• West of England Eye Unit at Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital
• Great Western Hospital, Swindon
• Moorfields Eye Hospital, Old Street site, London
• Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham

1. BOSU Study: Authors B Foot and C MacEwen ‘Surveillance of sight loss due to delay in ophthalmic treatment or review: frequency, cause and outcome’

All media enquiries to Anabel Unity Sale on 020 7874 1360 or Or, for urgent enquiries out-of-hours, please call 07968 482 812.

About RNIB
Every 15 minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and we’re here for everyone affected by sight loss – that’s over 2 million people in the UK. If you, or someone you know, has a sight problem, RNIB can help. Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit

About the Macular Society
The Macular Society is a leading UK charity that aims to reduce the fear and loneliness of sight loss and funds medical research to find a cure for macular diseases. We have around 340 Macular Society support groups, and a range of other services, including patient advocacy, so no one has to face macular disease alone. Our helpline is 0300 3030 111.

About the International Glaucoma Association
1. The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) is the charity for people with glaucoma. Its mission is to raise awareness of glaucoma, promote research related to early diagnosis and treatment, and to provide support to patients and all those who care for them. For more information, please visit:
2. Set up in 1974, it is the oldest patient based glaucoma association in the world and it is a registered charity in England and Wales, and also in Scotland.
3. As part of its support services, the IGA operates the Sightline (telephone helpline) and provides free information on any aspect of glaucoma.
4. For more information about glaucoma, contact the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) Sightline on 01233 64 81 70 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am–5.00pm).
5. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland close relatives of people with glaucoma who are aged 40 plus can have a sight test and examination by an optometrist which is paid for by the NHS, and everyone aged 60 and over is entitled to free testing In Scotland, the NHS will pay for glaucoma examinations offered by optometrists, regardless of age.

About The Royal College of Ophthalmologists
The Royal of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) is the professional membership organisation for eye doctors. We champion research, the science and practice of ophthalmology through training, assessment and continuing professional development. We advocate the timely diagnosis and treatment of patients to preserve sight and prevent avoidable blindness.

Anabel Unity Sale
Senior PR Officer

RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People)
105 Judd Street, London WC1H 9NE

t: 020 7874 1360 Out of hours press line: 07968 482 812


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