24 September 2021
Member update on EeRS in England
As you will be aware, FODO strongly supports securing IT connectivity between all eye health professionals and GPs, and members throughout England have been involved in the Electronic eye Referral System (EeRS) initiative as the proof of concept sites have been rolled out.
Our broad policy position on IT connectivity is set out below. We have also been asked what regional and national members think about EeRS, so here is the feedback we have received so far.
Eye care providers have long supported IT connectivity between primary eye care, GPs and the Hospital Eye Service (HES). This will improve two-way professional communication and cross-sector working so patients can be treated in the right place, by the right clinician and at the right time without delays, repeat tests, or lengthy waiting times.
IT connectivity is a key enabler for all these goals and can deliver significant benefits for patients, practitioners, providers, and the wider NHS for a small amount of NHS investment. All of which will also help the NHS streamline care pathways, reduce costs and help prevent avoidable sight loss and patients lost to the system.
Progress was made in 2020 with the announcement of some funding from NHS England to launch an Electronic eye Referral System (EeRS) initiative. Since then, FODO has been working with sector partners and NHSX to help get this right. The complexity of the project has not been without challenges and has required all sector partners to collaborate to develop solutions. These have included an open-source API, which will help realise the full benefits of IT connectivity over time.
The project is in a 'proof of concept phase' and individuals and practices across the sector are doing their best to test the models and iron out wrinkles so the NHS and the sector can use the lessons to develop a long-term solution for IT connectivity.
Alan Tinger, FODO Director, said: "We are fully behind the principle of connectivity which has been a sector aim for many years. We are working hard to support the sector and with NHSX, NHS Digital and NHS England to deliver sustainable, strategic solutions which will benefit patients, the NHS and the wider sector for many years to come."
Hakim Group, representing independent practices, said "We are 100% committed to and are working towards the delivery of EeRS in England. This will enable our independent practices to deliver even better eye care to our patients and will make it possible for more services to be delivered within community optometry in the future."
Asda Opticians said: "We support the launch of the EeRS in England and welcome the improvements this will bring for patients and our eye health professionals in their daily practice. We are working with all EeRS providers and our partners to plan the roll out to our practices as their area goes live, as well as looking at the API for connectivity to our practice management system."
Boots Opticians said: "We are engaged with the NHS and respective partners on the EeRS programme in all areas and look forward to how it will help patients and colleagues going forward. This is a key builder for the future."
Leightons Opticians & Hearing Care said: "We welcome this development and are supporting the NHS with the launch of EeRS with our practices. The ability to directly refer patients into secondary care, as other primary care providers already do, should enhance the service we provide to our patients."
Optical Express said: "The EeRS initiative has the potential to make a real difference for patients and we support the work to improve connectivity between optometry and ophthalmology eye care services. Patients will benefit from improved continuity of care and reducing waiting times for eye care services. We are keen to work with the NHS to help achieve this aim in every way we can."
Outside Clinic/Visioncall said: "As a national domiciliary provider we very much welcome working with NHSX and EeRS providers which we see as bringing long-awaited and much-needed connectivity between all eye health professionals. Collaboration will be key as we move through the implementation stages if we are to realise the full benefits of IT connectivity."
Scrivens Opticians & Hearing Care said: "As a family run opticians we have practices throughout England and it is clear that IT connectivity could bring major advantages to patients and help the NHS meet eye care needs in a more sustainable way. That is why we are committed to working with the sector.
Specsavers said: "We fully support the launch of an EeRS solution in England to improve connectivity between eye health professionals and to ultimately improve outcomes for patients. We have now commenced API development work and we look forward to the continued collaborative working with sector partners and the NHS over the coming months to get this live."
Vision Express said: "We always support developments which improve patient care. The launch of the EeRS solution will deliver just that by putting in place much-needed connectivity between Optometry, GPs and the Hospital Eye Service. We look forward to continuing the collaborative effort to get IT connectivity in eye care fully implemented across England."
If you have questions about EeRS or wider NHS reforms, please get in touch by emailing [email protected].