Tackling patient waiting times

31 January 2022
Winter 2022

As the NHS digs deep to clear the backlog of routine ophthalmology consultations, Jo Waters asks optometrists and other experts how they are managing long patient waiting times.

Waiting times for ophthalmology procedures and routine appointments are reported to be shockingly high – years rather than months for some operations in parts of the UK.

Even before the pandemic, pressure on ophthalmology services was building. The Royal College of Ophthalmologists predicted demand for cataract surgery, for example, was set to rise by 25% over the next 10 years and double by 2035 (RCOphth, 2017). (See table overleaf for UK rates of cataract surgeries compared with those of other European countries.)

Then came COVID-19 and the inevitable fallout of a freeze on routine appointments and non-urgent operations. 

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