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COVID-19 related backlogs in ophthalmology – Flame Health Blog
COVID-19 related backlogs in ophthalmology - Flame Health Blog
COVID-19 related backlogs in ophthalmology. Heads of services supporting optometry, orthoptic and visual functions at Birmingham & Midland Eye Centre, Dr Waheeda Illahi, Rosie Auld, Dr Peter Good and Dr Emma Berrow, reflect on growing wait lists, staff absences and adapting services.
As heads of service at the Birmingham & Midland Eye Centre (BMEC), we are acutely aware of the increasing waiting lists. As a result, have been planning for the anticipated surge in COVID-19 related demand over the last 12 months. However, the resurgence of COVID-19 due to the highly transmissible omicron variant has placed our services under considerable pressure. This has been since the beginning of 2022. With the levels of absence due to sickness in our departments being the highest we have experienced since the start of the pandemic.
Regrettably, COVID-19 related sickness absence has resulted in, and continues to result in, patient appointment cancellations, and we continue to work hard to reschedule appointments and minimise disruption to our patients. The change in self-isolation guidance does not appear to have alleviated the pressure that we face. In particular on our paediatric and contact lens services.
In order to address the above challenges, we are extremely fortunate that our trust is supporting our services with premium rate clinics. Providing our experienced colleagues the opportunity to work evenings and weekends. The impact on the paediatric waiting list has been very positive and this model of delivery will be extended to other aspects of the service.
Adapting and responding
The National Eye Care Recovery and Transformation Programme outlines steps towards recovery plans. Whilst also recognising that ophthalmology accounts for the highest volume of outpatient specialty. Approximately 10% of the NHS treatment backlog being in eye care.
In line with Getting it right first time (GIRFT) guidance, the BMEC is establishing a diagnostic hub. This provides staff with, equipment and an environment that facilitates high volume, high quality, and comprehensive diagnostics. This is in line with the need to change the emphasis from face-to-face to virtual review.
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COVID-19 related backlogs in ophthalmology