20 January 2020

Our response to the HSIB investigation into glaucoma monitoring

We have responded to the The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch’s investigation on the “Lack of timely monitoring of patients with glaucoma”.

The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch’s (HSIB) investigation into glaucoma monitoring highlights the devastating impact that delays in follow up appointments can have on patients, which can ultimately cause sight loss.

We have known for some time that there is a significant lack of capacity in hospital eye services, which is leading to long delays for patients who need to see a specialist or have treatment. We welcome the HSIB’s recommendations to review models of glaucoma care and funding, improve data collection and standards, and to implement better risk stratification.  

Optometrists in both primary care and hospital settings have a crucial role in providing referral filtering schemes and extended glaucoma services, and as multi-disciplinary team members to help alleviate some of the capacity issues. 

The HSIB report recognises the role of The College of Optometrists’ higher qualifications in glaucoma, enabling optometrists to take on greater levels of responsibility in caring for patients with glaucoma both in the community and within hospitals. We encourage all providers to support their optometrists in gaining these qualifications and use these valuable skills to benefit patients and the wider eye health system. 

We know from research we have funded that these models of optometrist-led working can reduce avoidable referrals and relieve pressure on hospital eye services, while still providing excellent care to patients. We urgently need more of these services to be commissioned across England so that patients don’t have to face a lottery of delays to their care.

Related further reading

Clinical editor Jane Veys considers the advantages of a blended healthcare approach.

Kieran Loft on his last stint at Acuity, and other changes in optometry.

How the camaraderie and clinical challenges in hospital optometry inspire this Consultant Optometrist.