Managed clinical networks: optimising optometry

1 February 2024
Winter 2024

Becky McCall discusses how managed clinical networks enhance regional eye health services.

Drawing on an existing model of networking across dentistry, optometry is starting to optimise the way clinical learning and relationship building can improve patient outcomes with a systematic and cross-disciplinary approach known as the managed clinical network (MCN). 

Based on the principle of practice sharing between primary and secondary eye care, MCNs nurture joined-up thinking between different sub-specialty professionals via open discussion and constructive learning. Unlike some previous networking initiatives, MCNs are designed to be more flexible in their objectives, allowing for organic adaptation and, as such, aim to be sustainable over the long term. 

Despite being established in multiple other specialties since the 1990s, MCNs represent a distinct departure as a model across optometry and ophthalmology. To test the concept for optometry, MCNs have been set up by two neighbouring local eye health networks (LEHNs) in the West Midlands. The first MCN, for medical retina, was set up in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, and the second, for glaucoma, was set up in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

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