In the first two months of a new service seeing patients in the community rather than hospital, almost 1000 people have been seen at their local opticians.
Since the launch of the community eye care service on the 6th September, 908 people have been seen at their local opticians for minor eye conditions and follow up appointments.
Prior to the launch of the community eye care service, optometrists saw approximately 30 patients with minor eye conditions each month.
Following the launch this figure has risen tenfold with optometrists seeing 300 patients each month and this figure is expected to increase.
This collaborative working is a part of the Better Care Together initiative, which looks to improve patient experience and provide increased access to local care. Currently there are 22 Optical practices actively participating in the scheme increasing the choice of locations to receive their care.
Optometrists are enjoying being able to provide this service within their communities.
Timothy Bagot, Bagot Opticians, Kendal, Windermere and Grange-over-Sands said: “Offering patients a high level of care in the community by working closely with local ophthalmologists has made the first few weeks of the community eye care scheme very rewarding. “We as optometrists have the skills and equipment to ensure that patients are quickly assessed and treated, and we will ensure they are referred to hospital if there is a more serious problem.”
John Askew, local optometrist from Lancaster said: “The training for the new scheme was interesting and useful, and it’s great to be using the skills covered by the training in practice enabling many more patients with eye problems to be seen in optometric practice without the need for them to visit their GP or hospital.”
Receiving care in the local community means that patients can benefit from being closer to home, being seen in a speedy timeframe, with reduced travel and associated costs. The development of community based care will also free up hospital appointments for people with more complex conditions that can only be managed in a hospital, which means that staff can intervene earlier to address any worsening of conditions.
Christiane Shrimpton, Consultant Ophthalmologist at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay said: “Now that we have established these effective community eye care services, the next step is to arrange integrated educational events between community and acute providers.”