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02 June 2023

NHS announces new measures to cut ophthalmology waiting times

NHS England hopes to cut ophthalmology waiting times based on the latest version of 'Evidence -based interventions' produced by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC).

NHS England said the new guidance supports the need to improve access to sophisticated diagnostic imaging before people are referred to an ophthalmology consultant. It added that implementing these changes would help reduce 'unnecessary referrals, which is better for patients but will also save taxpayers' money'.

NHS medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis said he hoped "these changes will prevent thousands of unnecessary referrals to ophthalmology services - giving back patients and staff alike their valuable time".

Minister Neil O'Brien said: "Improving access to the latest digital imaging technology will improve the speed and quality of eye care treatment for patients."

David Hewlett, FODO director, said: "This guidance is potentially good news. As Principles and priorities for primary eye care set out, referral refinement schemes are shown to help reduce referrals to secondary care.  Unfortunately, these services are not universally commissioned in England and the NHS does not yet pay for OCTs.

"We have been encouraging NHS commissioners to commission enhanced eye care services for many years. We hope the commitments to action the minister is giving will be converted into services commissioned by the new ICBs, making full use of primary eye care."

FODO will review the AoMRC guidance in detail and work with members and sector partners on next steps.

Read NHS England's press release.

Review the AoMRC ophthalmology guidance on pages 20-33 here



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