Hereford-based independent practice, BBR Optometry, has increased the number of appointments for emergency eye cases available to NHS patients.
The increase in allocation is part of a Primary Eye Acute Referral Service (PEARS) scheme run by NHS Herefordshire clinical commissioning group which aims to relieve pressure on local GPs and the hospital eye service at The County Hospital in Hereford.
BBR Optometry, whose staff includes two qualified independent prescribing (IP) optometrists, has increased its monthly capacity for emergency cases to 60. It joins more than 20 other optometric practices in the region signed up to the PEARS scheme.
Patients with eye related problems and registered with a Hereford GP can access an appointment with a qualified optometrist through the scheme within 48 hours, without the need for a GP referral.
BBR chairman and qualified IP optometrist, Nick Rumney, said: “BBR firmly believes that everyone should be able to access acute eye care in the community when it’s most needed. In emergency situations, the last thing patients want is to have to wade through red tape in order to get help.
“Historically, people may not always have approached their optician or optometrist with issues that are health, rather than vision-related, such as red eyes, sore eyes, or even a foreign body in the eye. However, as optometrists, we are able to help with far more than sight alone.”
Mr Rumney added: “PEARS is designed to work in a similar way to the NHS campaign to get more people to access help in non-emergency situations from places other than A&E, for example, by visiting their local pharmacist, or using the 111 helpline.”