Improved focus on eyecare services

Health Secretary Shona Robison.
Health Secretary Shona Robison.
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More eyecare services should be made available in the community, a national review has recommended. The Community Eyecare Review, commissioned by Health Secretary Shona Robison last year, has published today (Wednesday, April 19).

Chaired by Hamish Wilson, the review looks at care provided by community optometrists and how this can be developed and enhanced.

The review comes a decade after the introduction of free eye examinations and recommends schemes to reduce geographical differences in services. It also advises more tailored arrangements for patients with specific complex needs to support care closer to home.

It suggests some eye services traditionally offered in hospitals, like post-cataract surgery appointments and managing stable glaucoma patients, should be made available locally. This is already happening in some parts of Scotland.

Similar recommendations are made in another, parallel report, also published today. A report on hospital eye services highlights progress, priorities and action to improve the flow of patients through hospital, reduce waiting times and better staff education and training. This report is part of the National Opthalmology Workstream.

Ms Robison said: “I welcome both of these reports, which give valuable insight into eye services across our health service. This government is absolutely committed to continue free eye tests, and these reports will help us to look at how we can improve services further.

“Optometrists and ophthalmologists do tremendous work in delivering high quality eye care for the people of Scotland. However, as with all parts of the NHS, we must continue to improve - particularly to ensure no groups miss out on the services available.

“These recommendations will help support our wider primary care transformation work. I fully support them and look forward to seeing them implemented.”

Hamish Wilson, Chair of the Community Eyecare Review, said: “The Scottish Government commissioned this review to consider the current good practices being provided by community optometry and ensure high quality eye care that meets the individual needs of patients is fit for the future. I hope the recommendations in this report will help achieve not only that but also support the mutli-disciplinary approach that is central to the Government’s primary care transformation agenda.”

Professor Carrie MacEwen, President of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and advisor to the Chief Medical Officer in Scotland, said: “The National Ophthalmology Workstream project has demonstrated the benefits of close working between local clinicians, managers and the Scottish Government. This report identifies solutions to improve the flow of patients through hospital ophthalmology services. This will be done by adopting new methods of working, using modern technology and making use of the entire workforce, such as up-skilling nurses to ensure all patients get the timely hospital eye care they need.”

Nicola McElvanney, Chair of Optometry Scotland, added: “Optometry Scotland welcomes the recognition from the Cabinet Secretary and Scottish Government of the vital role that the optical professions play in the detection, diagnosis, and prevention of eye problems.

“Optometry Scotland welcome this 10 year review of eyecare and the key recommendations which have been the result. We will work closely with the Scottish Government on an implementation plan that will see patients being put at the centre of their own care and a shift to a more accessible and less disjointed journey.”