A key milestone

A landmark moment occurred in August when Public Health England released the first Atlas of Variation to focus on eye health

map with people animation
Getty/Jelina Preethi

The idea of a postcode lottery is a familiar one – that the area where you live influences the public services that you can access.

Perhaps the phrase comes up at the pub, when you hear stories of a year-long wait for a cataract operation, or you notice that it’s easier to receive an ophthalmology appointment after moving address. But good fortune in a postcode lottery is always at another patient’s expense. This is a deeply flawed game of chance.

Anecdotes may provide the outline of postcode lotteries in England, but data provides detail and certainty.

Attempts to unravel and challenge postcode lotteries in eye care received a boost in August when Public Health England published the first Atlas of Variation to focus on eye health in England.

The data series offers insight on a range of eye health indicators across England, and by illuminating ‘unwarranted’ variation, the analysis provides a stepping stone to address inequalities within healthcare.

Chair of the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning, Parul Desai, highlighted in the foreword to the report that the Atlas of Variation in risk factors and healthcare for vision in England has been “eagerly anticipated”.

“This atlas is timely. It covers the years immediately prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing a baseline and resource for monitoring the impact of the actions taken subsequently for the recovery and transformation of eye health services,” she said.

“In identifying, quantifying and reporting existing variations in eye health, this atlas has established the basis for systematically distinguishing and addressing unwarranted variations and trends over time,” Desai added.

Topics covered within the Atlas range from cataract surgery and sight loss outcomes to diabetic eye screening and intravitreal injections. The full report can be accessed online.

OT is interested to hear your reflections on what the data reveals about eye care in your region. Please feel free to get in contact by email.