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15 July 2022

FODO member update - 15 July

This week:

BBC Wales reports on risk of avoidable sight loss

Consultant ophthalmologist Gwyn Williams has told BBC Wales that the NHS must
make the most of non-medical staff in eye care services, given that Wales has fewer ophthalmologists than any other UK region.
Minister for health and social services, Eluned Morgan, told the BBC that she was "really concerned about the thousands of people waiting for operations". She added that "there were some things that cannot wait", including prioritising urgent cases to prevent sight loss.
The BBC also challenged the minister on long-term service issues within the NHS in Wales. The minister responded by saying she was focused on the future and "crucially, we are changing who is able to help us". She added that NHS Wales would use high street optometrists who are highly skilled and will help ease pressure on ophthalmologists. 

CET grant error

FODO and other sector bodies have notified PCSE that the CET grant claims portal has an error, stating the grant is £584 when it is £596. The PCSE website now has a note asking contractors not to process any claims while it resolves this issue. We will let you know when PCSE has done so.

Cataract surgery linked to fewer falls

Researchers in Australia report that older adults have fewer falls after cataract surgery. The prospective cohort study, Falls in Older people with Cataracts (FOCUS), said that surgery on the first eye significantly improved vision but surgery on the second eye further reduced the incidence of falls. 

Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine retinopathy monitoring

In England, the national Regional Medicines Optimisation Committee has developed practical recommendations for safe ophthalmology monitoring of patients who are receiving long-term hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine. The document outlines the risks of retinopathy and sets out a structured approach for health professionals to manage these risks.

Other sector news

A DRCR Retina Network clinical trial found that switching patients with diabetic macular oedema from a less expensive to a more expensive medicine when vision did not improve sufficiently "leads to good vision outcomes". The US-based National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded the trial. The results reported by NIH showed that both groups' visual acuity outcomes were similar. They improved on average by about three lines on an eye chart compared to the start of the trial.
The PCA has produced a blog that explains fitness to practise (FTP) to help registrants and the wider public understand the purpose of FTP and how it is assessed. Read the PSA blog.

Health policy updates

NHS England performance statistics

NHS England has published its latest consultant-led referral to treatment (RTT) waiting times data. The data show that at the end of May 2022, 6.6 million patients were waiting to start treatment with a median waiting time of 12.7 weeks - an increase of 100,000 patients and a new record. However, more than 330,000 patients waited more than one year and 8,028 more than two years to start treatment.
David Hare, chief executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, said:
"The backlog is now not only a health crisis but increasingly an economic one given that over half of all people waiting for NHS treatment are of working age." He called on the NHS to make better use of capacity in the independent sector to meet patient needs promptly.

Financial controls
As expected, NHS England (NHSE) is imposing fiscal rules on ICSs. The HSJ reports that NHSE is to "restrict spending at five deficit ICSs", adding that ICSs will be "assessed on whether and how far they are from breaking even, and their ability to deliver savings, rather than the previous metric of performance against their financial plans."
IT interoperability
The HSJ also reports that NHS leaders have called for IT systems to be simplified for
interoperability. NHSE transformation director Dr Tim Ferris said there is a need to "simplify the number of systems that we need to build interoperability between". He added that the goal was to have enough systems to encourage competition and innovation but a limited number to minimise how many interoperability bridges were required to connect them.  


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