A NEW cross-sector initiative will see more people treated by eye health services in the community to reduce the risk of people losing their sight due to hospital delays and cancelled follow up appointments.

The Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning (CCEHC), which represents the major charity, clinical and provider organisations in the eye health and sight loss sector, launched a new Primary Eye Care Framework this month.

The Framework is designed to help commissioners reduce hospital capacity issues in their area by delivering support services in the primary care setting.

The framework states it will minimise unnecessary referrals through monitoring, improve service for patients and offer efficiency for CCGS.

David Parkins, chair of the CCEHS, said patients were at risk of losing their sight because of delayed appointments and capacity pressures.

“Radical change is needed and we urge all Clinical Commissioning Groups and Local Eye Health Networks to measure their existing services against these frameworks and use them to expand local capacity to meet need as part of their local Sustainability and Transformation Plans.”

Professor Carrie MacEwen, President of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, supports the review of services to ease pressure on overstretched hospital eye services.

“It is critical that the ophthalmic sector develops frameworks that support the growing demands on the multi-disciplinary workforce,” she said.

“This team provides primary and secondary care for patients and we need to ensure that it is delivered through consistent and recognised training and education standards. We advocate the right eye care professional, at the right time and in the right setting.”

The Primary Eye Care Framework can be found here.