(The Association of ) Optometrists say Cataract Waiting Times Highlighted in RTE Investigates can be solved!
Optometrists have today said that lengthy waiting times for cataract treatment, as highlighted on RTE Investigates last night, can be reduced by making greater use of Optometrists.
Just to be clear, this news is NOT from last night!!
The Association of Optometrists Ireland said that a scheme has been developed and is successfully being applied in the North West called the ‘Sligo Post-Cataract Scheme’. It has proven highly successful in reducing waiting times for patients and in reducing costs in that region.
Under the scheme cataracts patients are co-managed by Optometrists in the community and Ophthalmologists in Hospital. The scheme simplifies the patient pathway and speeds up access.
AOI Chief Executive Sean McCrave called for the Sligo Scheme to be applied nationwide. “AOI together with the HSE has successfully trialled the ‘Post-Cataract Scheme’ in Sligo / the North West and it has proven clinically effective and brought cost savings.
“In the award winning scheme, Optometrists are provided with access to the hospital IT infrastructure and electronic patient records; and provided with training on the specific protocol to follow.
“Instead of two separate follow up appointments, one in the hospital and one with the community Optometrist, patients are given the option of a single appointment with their local Optometrist. This can be made at the patients’ convenience, in a local practice.
“This combined appointment facilitates the Optometrist to examine the eye and carry out a refraction in one appointment and then enter the details on the electronic patient record held in the hospital. “With over 20,000 procedures a year, rolling out the Sligo protocol nationally would reduce out-patient cataract appointments by approximately 20,000 at reduced cost with no capital expenditure,” Mr. McCrave said.
There are 8,500 people currently awaiting cataract surgery and waiting times of up to four years in some parts of the country.
A repost of a press release from the Association of Optometrists Ireland, but the RTE details are here.
Sadly, and perhaps a little cynically, I feel that some eye doctors must have a vested interest in longer waiting times – longer waiting times are better for private work after all?