11 March 2022

NHSEI call for extended services to be optimised

Guidance published recommending NHS commissioners to make better use of expertise in primary eye care.

The NHSEI National Eye Care Recovery & Transformation Programme has published guidance recommending NHS commissioners make better use of expertise in primary eye care. 

The actions include optimising existing extended primary eye care contracts by:

  • ensuring existing primary eye care contracts are fully serviced and utilised
  • working with primary care providers to ascertain possible scope of increased capacity and activity
  • utilising risk stratification processes to enable clinically appropriate patients to transfer to primary eye care
  • enablement of rapid transfer of patient care
  • support for a collaborative approach between primary eye care services and hospital eyecare services
  • exploring the use of a single point of access approach, where appropriate.

The document further highlights 5 primary care-based service areas for systems to optimise:

  • The optimisation of existing Urgent Eye Care Services. (MECS, CUES, PEARS or local equivalent) alongside a request to work with LOCs locally where such services do not exist to establish them
  • The optimisation of existing cataract pathways commissioned from primary care, including post-surgical follow-up pathways
  • The optimisation of primary care-based glaucoma pathways to include both referral filtering and monitoring
  • The Introduction of single point of access processes, to aid care navigation into primary eye care services.

As national optical representation bodies we welcome this guidance and its strong support for the continuation and expansion of extended primary eye care. These services are able to tackle outpatient waits, reduce the risk of avoidable blindness and address hospital capacity pressures which existed prior to COVID, and have increased significantly as a result of the pandemic. 

Improved access to care outside hospital is also key to outpatient transformation and bringing the benefits of integrated care closer to home for an ageing population. Further the statement paves the way for the development and introduction of Optometry First services as outlined in our joint communication on 10 February 2022

If you would like to learn more about Optometry First, please contact your LOC, LOCSU or your representative body. You can also apply for an account on the FutureNHS Collaboration Platform and view the Optometry First Toolkit online.

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